Verstappen ‘best F1 driver of all time’ – Berger

Dec.7 (GMM) Gerhard Berger is more and more convinced that Max Verstappen is the “world’s best racing driver of all time”.

It’s a big call from the F1 legend, especially as he was once teammate to the great Ayrton Senna at McLaren.

But he told Kronen Zeitung newspaper that “never in my life” has he seen a driver dominate in the way Red Bull’s Verstappen did in 2023 – with 19 wins out of 22 grands prix.

“Max is a racing driver who always gives 120 percent,” said the Austrian. “Just like Senna or Schumacher used to, or Hamilton does now.

“But I’m sure Max is back in the simulator and playing with all his racing cars again already.”

But is Verstappen the most dedicated driver the sport has ever seen?

“For sure,” Berger, 64, answered. “He simply lives with every fibre of his body for his sport – for Formula 1. That is his passion. For me, he is the world’s best racing driver of all time.”

For Berger, the most impressive part of Verstappen’s third consecutive drivers’ crown this year was not his 21 podiums out of a possible 22 – but his 100 percent driving record.

“That’s exactly what has become the biggest handicap for Helmut Marko,” Berger smiled. “Because Max doesn’t need him. With zero errors, Helmut simply has nothing to criticise.”

Sergio Perez’s performance in the sister car therefore stands out in stark contrast.

“Yes,” Berger agrees. “If you lump Max and Perez together, then on average Helmut has something to do again.

“Just looking at Leclerc’s overtaking of Perez on the last lap in Las Vegas, I have to say that not even a beginner makes such a mistake,” he added.

Speaking of Marko, Red Bull’s top consultant told the same newspaper mere days ago that he expects Red Bull to face a much tougher challenge to stay on top in 2024.

“Such statements are typical,” Berger insists. “Helmut is just trying to take some pressure out of the boiler. Personally, I see black again for all of Red Bull’s competition next year.”

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton would seem to agree with that, as he recently cast doubt on any team’s ability to close such a huge performance gap over a single winter.

“That’s just the language of Formula 1,” Berger explains, “so that he can start the new year with less pressure.

“But although I do see Red Bull as the clear favourite, Formula 1 is always good for a surprise. Something can always happen,” he added. “In any case, I’m really looking forward to 2024.”

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