British F1 heroes Damon Hill and Martin Brundle have discussed Max Verstappen’s talent alongside some of the top names in the sport’s history. The Dutchman’s dramatic world title triumph in 2021 has left fans wondering what more is to come and whether he can cement a legacy over the coming years that can rival those of his idols.
Verstappen came into the sport as a fresh-faced 17-year-old and the youngest ever entrant into an F1 race.
Having served his apprenticeship with Toro Rosso, he was promptly promoted to the full-blooded Red Bull team and claimed a stunning triumph on his debut in Spain.
The Dutchman’s first gritty title battle came last year when he went toe-to-toe with Lewis Hamilton, already considered by many to be the greatest of all time.
And Verstappen showed immense character to come through an emotionally draining season, which was riddled with controversy and conflict between himself and the seven-time world champion.
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In Abu Dhabi, he pulled off a sensational final-lap overtake to seal his maiden crown at 24-years-old, made even more impressive by the recent history of Mercedes dominance.
Audacious maneuvers and gutsy lunges have earned Verstappen fans around the world, while Hill and Brundle have weighed up his raw talent in the same breath as some truly legendary names.
“When I think of Max, I think of [Michael] Schumacher and [Ayrton] Senna in terms of his style, commitment and self-belief,” Hill, who won the world title in 1996, told Sky Sports.
“He has captured the awe of us as racing drivers because we know, when we’re watching, that it is something extraordinarily special.”
Brundle, who racked up nine podiums during his own decade-long career, added: “Max has some of the best car control I’ve ever seen in Formula 1.
“I wonder whether we have to go back to Gilles Villeneuve for that kind of car control.”
It goes without saying that to be stacked up against such a trio, even just in terms of characteristics, is a testament to the impact Verstappen has had on the sport while still short of his mid-twenties.
Schumacher still shares the top of the tree with Hamilton on seven world titles apiece, and was only recently passed by the Brit in terms of race wins.
To have the same style and self-belief as Senna is high praise indeed, as one of the sport’s most iconic names who might have gone on to achieve even more, but for his untimely death in 1994.
And Villeneuve’s car control earned him six race wins in 67 starts, only narrowly missing out on a Drivers’ Championship in 1979.
Verstappen could earn further plaudits this year if his prospective rematch with Hamilton falls in his favour.
The Dutchman will be keen to dispel notions that December’s dramatic triumph was solely down to ousted race director Michael Masi, and more success at the Mercedes man’s expense will only enhance his reputation.
Duel: Hamilton vs Verstappen will air on Sky Sports Main Event on Sunday at 7pm and on demand.