Max Verstappen - Greatest F1 Driver Ever?
Written by Owen Bradley, Edited by Leah Brown
Max Verstappen. 2021 Formula 1 world champion. 24-time grand prix winner. 65 podiums to his name.
Verstappen joined Formula 1 in 2015, driving for Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso. He displayed great overtaking skills, like against Sauber’s Felipe Nasr around the outside at the Blanchimont corner at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. Verstappen scored his best result with Toro Rosso just before the mid-season break, at Hungary, finishing a brilliant 4th, right behind Red Bull drivers Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo.
Verstappen began the 2016 season with Toro Rosso, but after just four races, Red Bull switched him and Kvyat, meaning he was now driving for the main Red Bull team.
The very next round, at the Spanish Grand Prix, Verstappen won his first race for Red Bull, defending from 2007 World Champion Kimi Räikkönen. Winning in his debut race helped solidify his position in the team right from the start.
In 2016, Verstappen would display his race craft against veteran drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Felipe Massa, Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button, Ricciardo and Räikkönen. With some claiming his driving style to be far too aggressive, Verstappen showed his talent, with a highlight at the Brazilian Grand Prix where he drove his heart out, saved the car from a crash, and eventually was rewarded with an exceptional podium in the downpour that Sunday afternoon. Martin Brundle even likened Max Verstappen to F1 legend Ayrton Senna, with similar wet-weather abilities. Verstappen would also be a minor force behind Rosberg’s championship decider in Abu Dhabi as Rosberg revealed he didn’t want to take many risks when racing “Crazy Max.”
2017 would be Verstappen’s strangest season, as the car mainly gave up on him and teammate Ricciardo every single weekend. This began the downfall of Red Bull and engine supplier Renault’s relationship, as Red Bull eventually switched to Honda in 2019.
2018 was a very transitional year for Max Verstappen. In the beginning, the Flying Dutchman struggled with being too aggressive, like at the Chinese Grand Prix when he attempted to pass both Hamilton and Vettel, failing both attempts trying to be too bold. He even crashed into Vettel, sending both drivers into a spin.
Max returned after the summer break as a new man, and with Ricciardo’s announcement to leave Red Bull at the end of 2018, Verstappen knew he would have to be Red Bull’s main driver.
2019 saw the dawn of a new age in Formula 1, with Verstappen at the forefront. Max would challenge Mercedes’ Hamilton and Ferrari’s Vettel and Charles Leclerc, and consistently get podiums and strong top 5 finishes. Max had some absolute standout performances, such as at Austria where he made a bold, brave and beautiful pass on Leclerc at turn 2 for the lead and eventually the win. He went on to win the Mexican Grand Prix by a long margin, and controlled a great race against Hamilton in Brazil to secure the win there too.
The F1 community started to turn their heads collectively in 2020, to realise Verstappen was gaining some serious momentum. Verstappen was strong, but he could do nothing against the Mercedes that season, who introduced DAS (Dual Axis Steering), which gained them approximately 0.450s a lap.
But in 2021, the tides seemed to have firmly changed, with Verstappen and Hamilton battling all season long, eventually coming down to the finale at Abu Dhabi, where on a last-lap pass Verstappen won his first championship.
In 2022, Verstappen has already fought back from a massive 46-point lead by Leclerc after the first three races. We haven’t seen such a large deficit erasure since 2012’s Vettel vs. Fernando Alonso battle, which funnily enough, was also a Red Bull/Ferrari battle.
So…is Max Verstappen the greatest F1 driver of all time?
Not yet. As Max has said himself, if he is going to be statistically the most successful, he will need a lot of luck with the team and engines, the fortune that helped Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton to their seven World Drivers’ Championships each. At just 24 years old, Max could likely beat the podium record, held by Lewis Hamilton with 183 (Verstappen currently has more podiums than Hamilton had at the same point in his F1 career). Max, given a lot of fortune with teams and engines, could also surpass the win record, again held by Lewis Hamilton with 103. Max currently sits on 25 wins.
Therefore, I personally believe Verstappen to be one of the best drivers in F1 history, but as statistics show, he’s currently fairly far down that list. Any world champion deserves to be on the list of greats, but with Verstappen being so young… he could eventually just be THE best.
But what do you think? Is Verstappen the best? Could he become the best? Let us know in the comments below!
If you’d like to give me any feedback - or just talk pure racing - then please leave a comment below, or you could get in contact by following my Instagram:
And if you’d like to check out a video I made about the 9-time MotoGP champion and legend, Valentino Rossi, then follow this link:
Valentino Rossi - 9-Time World Champion
Finally be sure to check out the second episode of the Divebomb Power Rankings Podcast:
DIVEBOMB Monthly Power Rankings - May 2022
Thanks for reading guys, means a lot!