Nico Rosberg believes it’s only a matter of time before Max Verstappen’s name is mentioned in the same breath as Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton.
The latter, he reckons, is the only driver who could have taken the fight to Verstappen this past season had he also been driving the record-breaking Red Bull RB18.
12 months after his hard-f0ught victory in the 2021 World Championship, Verstappen beating Hamilton to the title with a last-lap-of-the-season pass, the Dutchman has two titles to his names.
His title defence was straightforward compared to his first championship, the Red Bull driver wrapping up the 2022 title with his 12th of 15 wins for the season.
Rosberg believes he’ll “very soon” be rated amongst the top-five best Formula 1 drivers ever.
“Max Verstappen is simply a brilliant driver,” the 2016 World Champion told Sport1.de. “I’m pretty sure he will join the five best F1 drivers of all time very soon.
“Together with Senna, Hamilton and Schumacher, among others, the name of Max Verstappen will be on that list.
“That will happen soon, especially since he already has his second title in his pocket.
“It’s unbelievable how much talent he has and how flawless he was.”
Easily saw off Sergio Perez who is ‘no jerk’
With Verstappen bagging 15 wins and 454 points, he finished the season comfortably ahead of his team-mate Sergio Perez, who had two wins and 305 points.
Only one team-mate has ever finished ahead of Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo doing so in 2016 when Verstappen was promoted to Red Bull prior to race five of the season, and again in 2017.
Since then the Dutchman has always come on top of his team-mate battles.
His performances against Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon effectively ended their Red Bull careers, both drivers demoted after falling well short of Verstappen’s benchmark.
“He was stronger than his team-mate [Perez],” Rosberg continued. “That is of course the one you can best measure yourself against.
“And his current and previous team-mates are no jerks of course. Think of Gasly, Perez and all the others. They don’t even reach half of Max’s level.
Perez had last year a few moments when he was a bit close, but for the rest he was more in no man’s land compared to Verstappen.”
‘Only Hamilton could be at the same level’
With 15 wins on the board in 2022, Verstappen set a new record for the most wins in a single season. The previous record was 13, set by Michael Schumacher and matched by Sebastian Vettel.
Rosberg says such was Verstappen’s “insane” form this past season only Hamilton would have the ability to match him had he also been in the RB18.
“Fifteen victories in one season is incredible,” he added. “He is now the man to beat in Formula 1.
“By the way, I would say that only Hamilton would act at eye level, so at about the same level, if he were in the same car.
“But what Verstappen is currently showing is insane.”
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