After watching Max Verstappen power to victory at the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix, Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez declared him to be one of the great Formula 1 drivers of all time and explained why.
On Sunday in Montreal, Red Bull’s reigning F1 World Champion Verstappen racked up his 26th victory on the occasion of his 150th start in the top flight.
Brad Pitt’s scriptwriters could not script such an occasion and make it believable, as F1 facts tend to be stranger than fiction. [Good luck with that project!]
That victory also increased Verstappen’s lead in the 2022 F1 Drivers’ Standings to 46 points, after nine rounds, over teammate Perez and, perhaps more significantly, Ferrari’s Title challenger Charles Leclerc who he now leads by 49.
Heading to Round 10, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone next weekend, Verstappen is already ultra-favourite to retain his F1 crown come the end of this season, our man Sean Stevens predicting the 2022 F1 World Championship is done and dusted, froth on the beer he says.
Hard to argue if Red Bull’s form continues to rise and rise and rise, while their rivals (aka Ferrari) falter or stagnate.
Being the Dutchman’s teammate has been no easy feat, ask his previous companions Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly, Daniil Kvyat, Alex Albon and now, of course, the Mexican veteran.
A year and a half into sharing a garage with Verstappen, Perez echoed what Verstappen’s predecessors have said of Max, going on to elaborate eloquently on what makes the reigning F1 World Champion so potent.
Perez: Max goes to the limit from the first lap all the time
Speaking to Fox Sports after the Canadian Grand Prix, Perez said: “Max is very good, a very complete driver. He’s without a doubt one of the best in F1 history, if not the best, for everything, his [racing] education and because he has things that other F1 drivers do not have.”
“The special thing about Max is the ease of going to the limit, Max goes to the limit from the first lap, every change he makes to the car is important and it’s not that he changes his conditioning style, he always goes to the limit.
“The difference is always a corner, it is a level that demands a lot as a driver,” explained Perez, a three-time Grand Prix winner at the age of 32.
Verstappen is a special one and if still not considered unanimously as an F1 GOAT, he is far ahead of the bunch, racing to get there.
To determine F1 GOAT-ness is a pointless exercise comparing eras before the 1990s
Sir Jackie Stewart was a three-time F1 World Champion with only 99 starts in the top flight; Esteban Ocon will make his 99th start next weekend’s the British Grand Prix.
However, what is a fact, should Max call it quits tomorrow is that his record as the Youngest-Record-Holder-Of-Everything-F1-Related is already a done deal, and probably many of those accolades may remain forever.
Add to that his one F1 World Title, which at 24 (when he won it last year in Abu Dhabi) made him the fourth-youngest driver to do so.
The others are: Sebastian Vettel the youngest, then Lewis Hamilton, then Fernando Alonso. That’s an impressive company, the trio of greats of a glorious albeit fading generation.
Before them, Ayrton Senna won his first Title at 28 years of age, Alain Prost at 30 and Michael Schumacher at 25.
Consider HAM-ALO-VET stats on the occasion of their respective 150th races in F1:
Belgium 2015. Vettel at Ferrari that year and had already four Titles to his name from 41 Grand Prix wins; he was 28 that year;
Malaysia 2015. Hamilton was driving for Mercedes that year and had already twoTitles to his name along with 34 Grand Prix wins; he was 30;
Germany 2010. Alonso was in his first season with Ferrari with two F1 Titles to his name thanks to his stint with Renault. Like Max, he also won on the occasion of his 150th F1 start; he was 30;
France 1993. Senna was in his final year with McLaren on 39 F1 victories and three World Titles to his name; he was 33.
Austria 2001. At Ferrari, Schumacher was 32 years old at the time, already with 47 GP wins and three F1 World Titles to his name;
Portugal 1989. Prost, driving for McLaren, was on 39 victories and a double F1 World Champion at the age of 34.
Canada 2022. Red Bull’s Verstappen is on 26 wins with last year’s F1 Title to his name; he is only 24!
Thus simple maths shows that Perez is right about his teammate, Max is already a junior F1 GOAT, and packing away a second F1 Title at the end of this season would seal the deal, he is part of that exclusive F1 GOAT club already no matter what way you look at it.
How much greater he becomes only time will tell, and he has plenty of that on his side.