Max Verstappen is Bringing Back the “Michael Schumacher Effect”: Former Ferrari Teammate Irvine

Published 06/10/2021, 3:38 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy – April 18, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen reacts after winning the race Pool via REUTERS/Bryn Lennon


Max Verstappen seems to have an extra gear this season. While Red Bull look a much improved team from last season, the Dutchman’s fearless attitude has translated into a championship lead for the first time in his F1 career.

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Currently in his fifth full season with Red Bull, the 23-year-old has grown leaps and bounds, outclassing four teammates in that time period.

Former Ferrari driver, Eddie Irvine, spoke about the similarities between Verstappen and Michael Schumacher, who was Irvine’s teammate in Ferrari.

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Irvine believes Max Verstappen is the ultimate talent in F1

Irvine raced for Ferrari for four seasons, from 1996 to 1999. With four wins and 26 podiums to his name, Irvine had Schumacher as his teammate for all four seasons.

Although the Northern Irishman’s career is often overshadowed by Schumacher’s success, he came close to winning the title in 1999, challenging eventual champion Mika Hakkinen.

Formula One F1 – Monaco Grand Prix – Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo, Monaco – May 19, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen during a press conference ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix Pool via REUTERS/Sebastien Nogier

Recently, Irvine summed up the championship battle this season. With Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton locked in an intense battle, Irvine thinks Verstappen has similarities with Schumacher.

He believes the Dutchman has outperformed all his teammates regularly, which the German used to do as well. Irvine said“He’s always been super-fast, and you can see that he’s by far the most dominant team leader on the grid.

“He’s had many, many different second drivers in the team and none of them have got close to him. So it’s a bit like the Michael Schumacher effect.

“While Lewis has been regularly outqualified and outperformed by his teammates, you’d have to say Verstappen is probably the ultimate talent, although Lewis is a consummate professional and has very few weak spots.”

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Irvine: Verstappen is the fastest, but Hamilton is still the top driver this season

Although Irvine credited Verstappen for his success this season, he still believes Hamilton is the man to beat. In addition, he also believes the rivalry between the two drivers will make for a great season this year.

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Formula One F1 – Portuguese Grand Prix – Algarve International Circuit – Portimao, Portugal – May 2, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton shakes hands with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen after winning the race Pool via REUTERS/Gabriel Bouys

The former Ferrari driver said, “The 2021 season so far has been amazing. Verstappen is definitely the fastest driver out there at the minute, but you have to say Lewis Hamilton is probably still the top driver.

“It’s been fantastic to watch those two guys go at it. I think it’s going to be a great season.”

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With the title fight now headed to Le Castellet, Verstappen will hope to extend his 4-point lead to Hamilton. Although Mercedes have a better track record in the French Grand Prix, Red Bull have looked sharp this season. Can the Austrian outfit stay ahead of the Silver Arrows after June 20?

WATCH STORY: Insane Michael Schumacher Records That Lewis Hamilton Hasn’t Broken Yet

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Sanket Nair

617 articles

Sanket Nair is an F1 Author at EssentiallySports. A Sports Management student, he is a huge fan of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo and hopes to see Red Bull break Mercedes' dominance and win the World Championship soon. Sanket has been hooked to the sport ever since he watched the battle for the 2010 World Championship go down to the wire at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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