Max Verstappen already belongs “among the best five or six drivers ever” in Formula 1 history, according to 2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg.
After beating Lewis Hamilton to clinch his maiden Drivers’ title in 2021 and comfortably retaining his crown last year, Verstappen has classified first or second in all 10 races to take place this season to be well on course to become a three-time champion.
The Dutchman has secured victory in 17 of the previous 21 races to elevate his name to fifth on the all-time list for race wins in F1, surpassing Ayrton Senna at the Austrian Grand Prix earlier this month.
Despite only turning 25 last October, Rosberg believes Verstappen has already cemented his place alongside the greatest drivers to ever compete in the sport.
“For me, he comes up to the level of the biggest names in the sport,” Rosberg told Spanish outlet Marca. “Senna, Schumacher, Hamilton: Max is among the best five or six drivers ever.
“He is a phenomenon, and the team has also given him a very good, if not the best car. You can also see it with his teammates. They’re all good, but they never come close to him.”
Red Bull had previously encountered problems with finding a reliable driver to partner Verstappen ever since Daniel Ricciardo departed at the end of 2018.
While Sergio Perez has provided stability in that second seat since arriving in 2021, the Mexican has endured struggles of his own lately, failing to progress to Q3 in qualifying at the past five race weekends.
Rosberg has sympathised with Perez’s forlorn attempts to match Verstappen in equal machinery, having gone through the same experience alongside Lewis Hamilton.
“It is now also happening with Perez,” he continued. “He’s fast and I know him well, but he can’t catch up with Max.
“That is so mentally difficult, to accept that your colleague is better. I know because I was in the same situation with Hamilton. It is very hard to have such a strong rider next to you.”
Red Bull’s dominance in F1’s latest era has extended into this season as the reigning Constructors’ champions have scooped every win available in 2023.
Verstappen’s sixth consecutive victory at the British Grand Prix extended the Austrian outfit’s current run to 11, equalling the all-time F1 record also held by McLaren from 1988.
Although Rosberg reckons Red Bull could become the first side in the sport’s history to win every single race in a season, the German asserts the onus will be on Verstappen to deliver amid Perez’s recent troubles.
“It certainly looks like they can win all the races. The problem at the moment is that they only have one driver who seems to be able to win.
The other is always behind and has many problems. That makes it a lot more difficult for them, but it is certainly possible. Verstappen will then have to win a lot of races.”