Bernie Ecclestone reveals where Verstappen ranks among F1 greats

Bernie Ecclestone praised Max Verstappen's positive impact on F1

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Bernie Ecclestone ranked Max Verstappen as the best driver in Formula 1 history, ahead of Lewis Hamilton, and praised the Dutchman for bringing Zandvoort back to the sport.

Verstappen‘s won all three Dutch Grand Prix since it returned to F1 in 2021 – a year later than scheduled thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic – and secured his third world championship in as many seasons at the 2023 Qatar GP.

Ecclestone ran F1 for almost 40 years before he was removed as CEO in 2017 following Liberty Media’s takeover, overseeing Verstappen‘s first grand prix aged just 17, as well as his maiden win at the 2016 Spanish GP.

Max is the best driver to have driven in Formula 1 since the sport was founded,” Ecclestone told NOS.nl. “As long as Max drives in Formula 1, Zandvoort will remain on the calendar.”

“It looks much better, the organisation is doing well. It is mainly thanks to Verstappen of course, but besides that there are plenty of people who have put their shoulders to the wheel.

“You see it more often: when one circuit wants to improve the situation, so does the other. It propels the sport upwards.”

Ecclestone: F1 calendar is too long

Max Verstappen and Toto Wolff at Bernie Ecclestone’s birthday celebrations in 2016 | Mark Thompson / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Zandvoort was the third circuit added to the F1 calendar after the original six-race 1950 season, first appearing in 1952 and only missing four editions until it was canned in 1986.

That was under Ecclestone‘s watch, and its return to the sport was only confirmed in 2019 – after the Brit exited F1.

The calendar’s ballooned to 24 races for the 2024 season, with nine held in Europe, but Ecclestone said he wanted the sport to expand its worldwide presence while simultaneously shrinking the total number of grand prix.

“How it continues after that, who will say? Maybe we will lose a few races,” Ecclestone added. “24 races on the calendar is too many, a few will go off.”

“I am happy that the sport continues to develop around the world. I am the one who brought Formula 1 out of Europe and to the rest of the world. We are competing for a world championship, not a European championship. It is good that that remains the case.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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