Former Formula 1 driver Gerhard Berger has boldly claimed Max Verstappen should be considered the greatest driver in history because of his unprecedented skillset.
The 26-year-old became a three-time world champion when he claimed his title in Qatar with five races to go. Verstappen broke the record for most points collected in a season (575) and most races won by a single driver (19) in what proved to be the most one-sided season in F1 history.
The Red Bull star is already third on the all-time list for wins with 54, having surpassed Sebastian Vettel’s career total at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2023. He is still some way off Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari icon Michael Schumacher, who have 103 and 91 wins to their names respectively.
Berger maintained for some time that fellow three-time world champion Ayrton Senna was slightly ahead of other F1 legends including Schumacher and Hamilton.
That won’t come as a surprise to those who remember that Berger was Senna’s team-mate at McLaren for three years from 1990 to 1992, where the pair developed a great friendship before the Brazilian tragically passed away in 1994.
“For me, he [Senna] was the best there was. But if I just look at the statistics and the hard facts, then of course you have to put Michael Schumacher first and Lewis Hamilton second,” Berger previously told Krone.at.
But now, the 64-year-old believes Verstappen has entered uncharted territory in F1: “I said before that Senna was the best driver of all time,” Berger said. “I have to say, I think Max Verstappen is now even better than that. He has skills that I haven’t seen yet.”
Berger: Red Bull not detrimental to F1
Red Bull won 21 of 22 races in 2023 and in doing so, the Austrian team even managed to break McLaren’s record from the 1988 season. At that time, Alain Prost and Senna had won 15 of the 16 races – with Berger the only non-McLaren driver to take a win in the Ferrari.
Verstappen finished on the top of the podium 10 times in a row – a feat that no driver has achieved before – and left his team-mate Sergio Perez in his rearview mirror in the same machinery.
Berger also praised Red Bull for going the entire season without a mechanical failure on Verstappen’s car and insisted their dominance in 2023 is not detrimental to F1’s future.
“It’s also interesting to see that there is such perfection,” Berger added. “On the one hand, there was ‘The team didn’t have any technical failures, they didn’t miss any pit stops’ and on the other hand, a driver [Verstappen] driving at the limit like that didn’t make a mistake.”