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BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - MAY 01: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing on a racing simulator during the Red Bull Racing Budapest Showrun on May 1, 2018 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Laszlo Balogh/Getty Images for Red Bull Racing)

Herbert: Verstappen better than Schumacher because of simulators

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - MAY 01: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing on a racing simulator during the Red Bull Racing Budapest Showrun on May 1, 2018 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Laszlo Balogh/Getty Images for Herbert: Verstappen better than Schumacher because of simulators Racing)

Johnny Herbert has joined the chorus of Formula 1 figures hailing Max Verstappen, the Briton going as far as claiming that Red Bull’s triple World Champion is better than Michael Schumacher.

A big statement from a former Schumacher teammate at Benetton in 1995, Herbert a F1 winner is now a pundit who keeps a keen eye on the scene. And, more than most, is aware of how technology has helped this generation of F1 driver to hone their skills in a manner impossible for drivers to do so in the nineties, and early 2000s.

Speaking to the media team at Inclave Casino, Herbert declared: “Yes, Verstappen is better than Schumacher. It is about human development and evolution. When Michael was around simulators, they were there to be used, but Michael always felt a bit nauseous when he got on it.

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“Max lives on a Red Bull simulator. He races on a simulator all the time. It is a sixth or seventh sense that these modern drivers have now. That is why you have constant evolution. It is how you use the tools when you get into the cockpit. Michael wasn’t able at the period to take simulator data into the cockpit. Max does,” explained Herbert.

Despite the AusGP DNF Verstappen is expected to clean-up again this season

Formula 1 Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen challenges e-sport athlete Rodrigo Ulibarri to a videogame match previous to Formula 1 Mexico GP at Red Bull Mexico HQ in Mexico City, Mexico on October 25, 2017 // Jaime Fernandez Diaz / Red Bull Content Pool // SI201710260007 // Usage for editorial use only //

Verstappen is king of the virtual world (with many wins and records on iRacing) as well as F1 right now. The Dutch 26-year-old has won 36 Grand Prix races since the start of 2022. He clinched his third F1 crown way before the season ended last year. In 2024, despite the ‘burning brakes’ issue.

Herbert continued: “People are saying that Red Bull has the best car, which it has. But he is driving the actual wheels off it. He is performing at such a high level that he makes the difference.

“That is where the likes of Max, Lewis, Senna, Michael Schumacher, Mike and Alonso make that difference. They are those rare beasts who can get the best out of the car every time they get in it.

“Sergio Perez is not a bad driver at all but he is nowhere near as good as Max. He is driving the best I have ever seen and we haven’t seen the best of him,” reckoned the three-time GP winner.

As for Verstappen’s dominance in making F1 boring, the Briton is on the same page as his former rival and 1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, who derided suggestions that Max has made F1 boring.

Herbert: Verstappen is like Roger Federer was at his peak

Herbert: Verstappen is like Roger Federer was at his peak

“When Tiger Woods was at the top of his game, we all enjoyed it,” recalled Herbert. “His skill levels were phenomenal. We could see it and it was fascinating to watch every shot he made. He was way ahead of the field.

“Everybody enjoyed that and in the same way they should enjoy Max. He is unbelievable. It is up to the other teams to provide a package that their drivers can have to challenge him. But behind Max it is very tight between the other drivers with only about two or three-tenths of a second down to about eight or ninth place.

“But there is this one man who is so dominant. Roger Federer was the same at his peak. It is a skill and you can’t take away from that and say that it is boring,” added Herbert.

This weekend in Japan, Verstappen will be aiming to return to his winning ways. Red Bull are again favourites but for the first time this season, in Australia, Ferrari proved the World Champions are not invincible.

Nevertheless, it would be foolish not to follow Herbert’s instinct and bet against Verstappen doing the business on Sunday at Suzuka. Adding the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix trophy to the 56 F1 winners trophies he has already collected during his career in the top flight.