JUNE 21, 2023

Only Verstappen deserves Senna comparison says Marko

It's too "dangerous" for Red Bull to let Max Verstappen loose on the fabled Nordschleife layout in a decade-old Formula 1 car.

Max Verstappen, Canadian GP 2023
© Red Bull

It's too "dangerous" for Red Bull to let Max Verstappen loose on the fabled Nordschleife layout in a decade-old Formula 1 car.

That is the clear admission of Dr Helmut Marko, after dominant world champion Verstappen said he wanted to join Sebastian Vettel at the September event and his 80-year-old boss answered "No, no, no - you're not doing that".

"We all know Max," he told Auto Motor und Sport's Tobias Gruner.

"First, he would find out the record and try to beat it - and not by just one second," Marko smiled.

"But these cars are simply not designed to chase records. It's too dangerous."

However, while the 25-year-old Dutchman is clearly prepared to take risks in the midst of a championship campaign, that hasn't stopped the latest comparisons between his achievements and those of F1 legend Ayrton Senna.

Verstappen matched the late Senna's career tally of 41 grand prix wins in Montreal last weekend.

"When Michael Schumacher came out of nowhere into Formula 1, I remember Ayrton gave me a look that said 'This guy is going to be dangerous for us'," Senna's former teammate Gerhard Berger told Sport1.

"That was then confirmed. Michael and Lewis Hamilton at least deserve the comparison, but I can clearly say about Max - sportingly, he is on the same level as Ayrton."

When asked the same question, former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said Senna is the "Muhammad Ali of Formula 1".

"Juan Manuel Fangio had this special magic in the 50s, in the 60s it was Jim Clark and Jochen Rindt. Later it was Michael Schumacher," said the 92-year-old.

"I don't want to forget Alain Prost either, who had the perfect mix of speed and racing intelligence, but I think we should all be happy now to be able to observe Max Verstappen.

"He's someone who is shaping his own epoch for eternity," Ecclestone added.

Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko was the one who spotted and then signed up Verstappen as a 16-year-old, and the Austrian says he was "laughed at" when he made the Senna comparisons back then.

"Senna had the special moments that Max is showing now," Marko insisted. "And I know that only Max really deserves these comparisons with Senna."

He said it's a particularly tough gig for Sergio Perez, like all of Verstappen's other teammates that came before him.

"Sergio has been holding out next to Max for two years now, which is an achievement in itself," Marko, 80, said. "That's quite a long time for anyone."