Helmut Marko believes there are only three drivers on the current F1 grid who can match Max Verstappen. According to Dr. Marko, Lewis Hamilton is the closest match to Verstappen’s pace. Verstappen, 22, had his best season in Formula 1 last year – finishing 3rd in the Drivers’ Championship.
Verstappen is currently in the form of his life. The Dutchman radically changed his approach to F1 following a crash in free practice in Monaco in 2018. That resulted in one of the most dominant runs stretching over a year. The common theme was consistency.
Verstappen’s formula of controlled aggression seems to have done the trick, with the dutchman picking up 3 victories in 2019. Each of these wins was challenging and required intense concentration- but Verstappen managed to keep his cool.
Some would argue that Max Verstappen is currently the best driver on the grid, but is held back by his car. This could be true to a certain extent, but it’s only the results that count at the end of the day.
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko thinks there are three drivers close to Verstappen’s level. You can probably guess two of the drivers, but the third choice might come as a surprise.
The first and most obvious choice according to Marko is Lewis Hamilton. Not a shocker, considering Hamilton is also driving at a pristine level and recently wrapped up a sixth Drivers’ Championship. Similar to Verstappen, Hamilton’s biggest strength lies in being consistent.
The second choice was Charles Leclerc. The Monegasque had an outstanding season in his first year wearing red. Leclerc claimed 7 pole positions in 2019- more than any other driver. Furthermore, he outscored teammate Sebastian Vettel-being only the second driver to do so.
Speaking to Motorsport-Magazin, Marko said: “First of all Lewis Hamilton, “That’s obvious, given his consistency and his speed. In terms of personality and appearance, he’s like a polar opposite of Hamilton. Leclerc is next, he’s shown some incredible results already.”
Marko also emphasized the importance of having a car that was not only the fastest but also competitive over the entire season.
For his third choice, Helmut Marko picked Sebastian Vettel. Vettel hasn’t had the best of runs as of late and will need to perform to keep his seat. Surprisingly, Marko himself claimed the German was no longer a top-three driver.
“I’m certainly not writing off Vettel yet. When he gets back up, he gets a car that suits him and the support from the team, he’ll be right back at the top.”
With Mercedes gunning for a seventh consecutive championship, it will be interesting to see if the Milton-Keynes outfit can deny them glory once again.