Uncle Michael or Nephew Max? Ex-Ferrari Boss Hand Picks “Purer” F1 Driver

Published 08/18/2023, 10:30 AM EDT

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In the early 2000s, it was Michael Schumacher taking Formula 1 by storm. At the turn of the current decade, as the changing of the guard took place, the reins of Formula 1 came into the hands of Max Verstappen. Although it may seem like their only shared link is their world titles, the reality is that they go way back. Schumacher and Verstappen’s father, Jos Verstappen, were close friends throughout their racing career, so much so that they spent family vacations with each other. In an interview with F1 Insider, Max Verstappen talked about the time he spent with Schumacher, saying, “I was three or four years old then. All I knew was that it was Uncle Michael.”

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As similar as their life trajectories have been, Verstappen and Schumacher couldn’t be more different in the F1 landscape. Yes, they’re both multiple world champions and yes, Verstappen is on his way to becoming an F1 great like Schumacher. But F1 journalist Peter Windsor pointed out a critical difference between them.

Max Verstappen isn’t as effective at “running” Red Bull

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When Schumacher joined Ferrari in 1996, McLaren and Willimas dominated the field. This compelled the German to build a team around himself from the ground up, and he did so with help from Jean Todt and Ross Brawn. In comparison, when Verstappen joined Red Bull, he joined a team that had been winning races here and there and had the means to build itself up. All Verstappen had to do—and has been doing—is drive well, which he’s been doing exceptionally well.

Having been in F1 as Ferrari’s General Manager around the time Schumacher joined the sport, Peter Windsor has gotten a taste of what they’re both like. During a YouTube live stream, Windsor was asked about the differences between the two. He said, “I don’t think Max would be as capable as Michael was of putting a team together the way Michael [Schumacher] did with Jean Todt and Ross Brawn at Ferrari. Max is a bit more of a racing driver. Pure and simple because that’s what he’s been all his life, and that’s what he’s had at Red Bull. He doesn’t run Red Bull in the way that Michael [Schumacher] effectively ran Ferrari for a while.”

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While Schumacher was great, he wasn’t the fairest of drivers. Windsor also pointed this out, saying, “An obvious difference is that Michael went over the edge several times in terms of what was acceptable on the racetrack with other drivers. Whereas, I think Max is a purer driver and purer athlete, sportsman, who wouldn’t do the things Michael’s done.” Despite the differences, Verstappen’s dominance received high praise in comparison to one of Schumacher’s best seasons in F1.

No one can come close to Max Verstappen this season

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Of the 12 races so far this season, Verstappen has won 10, eight of which have come consecutively since the Miami GP. As F1 returns after the summer break next week, the Dutchman will have the opportunity to match Sebastian Vettel’s 2013 record of winning 9 races in a row. It’s not just this. The margin he’s won his races by isn’t a meager 5 or 10 seconds. They’re usually 20+ seconds, even compared to his teammate. That’s how good Verstappen has been this season.

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In an interview where F1 journalist Michael Schmidt was discussing Verstappen’s dominance in 2023, he could only compare it to one other season. He said, “Michael Schumacher’s 2004 season.” That season with Ferrari saw him win 13 races, beating his old record of 11 wins in a season. No one came close to the German’s level that year, and he breezed through to his seventh championship. With how 2023 is shaping up, Verstappen is undoubtedly cruising to a third consecutive title.

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Watch This Story: Max Verstappen Wittily Responds to Backlash for 2021 Championship Win

Who do you think is a better driver: Michael Schumacher or Max Verstappen?

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Written by:

Aditi Krishnan

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Aditi is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports and is essentially a sportsperson. She fell in love with F1 in 2020. It happened when her brother tuned into that first race weekend in Austria, and she knew right then and there that she had to learn everything she could about the sport.
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