The Dutch sensation dominated the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday, comfortably keeping both McLaren drivers at bay after defending perfectly at the race start. That win stretched Verstappen’s championship lead to a mammoth 177 points with six rounds to go.
With such a commanding lead at the top of the standings, Verstappen needs just three points in total across the sprint race and Grand Prix to confirm the World Championship and make it three consecutive F1 titles.
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Speaking to the Daily Mail, Ecclestone said: “Max is the best driver ever. No doubts. I used to say Alain Prost. Now I would say Max. He’s the greatest. He is brightest with regards to getting the best out of the car. He doesn’t muck around. He gets right on the programme. In my list, he is above Lewis Hamilton.
“Lewis is obviously super-super bright, super-super talented. Lewis understands people and gets the best out of them, whereas Max gets the best out of the car. He’s very different from Max. When Lewis stops racing, he can get into a different world — entertainment or whatever — but that won’t be the way Max could go.
“I’ll tell you Max is one of us. In our sphere of Formula One nobody is like Lewis, nobody is. I think in the early days he was a bit different from other people. At school, I was a bit under-sized, so it is a bit different, too. As it was with Lewis. He had his dad’s support.”
While Verstappen is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest drivers in the history of F1, in terms of statistics and accolades, it is hard to argue against Lewis Hamilton being the best the sport has ever seen.
The 38-year-old has a record 103 Grand Prix victories to his name, along with seven World Championships. Adding to that, his podium in Singapore two weeks ago made it 196 total podiums in F1, moving him 41 podiums clear of Schumacher, who places second in that ranking.
That said, Verstappen is certainly on track to pose a threat to Hamilton’s records when the Brit does eventually retire from F1. His ten-race winning streak between Miami and Monza confirmed that suspicion.