Bernie Ecclestone, the former supremo of Formula 1, has revised his opinion on who holds the title of the greatest driver in the sport’s history. In the past, the 92-year-old often cited Alain Prost as the best, but in a recent interview with the Daily Mail, he bestowed that title upon Max Verstappen.
“Max is unparalleled in terms of skill,” Ecclestone declared. “I used to say it was Alain Prost who was the greatest, but now I have no hesitation in saying it’s Max. He has an incredible ability to extract the maximum from a car. Unlike others, he doesn’t make a fuss; he just gets on with it.”
Verstappen ‘better than Hamilton’
In Ecclestone’s view, Verstappen’s contributions to the sport even surpass those of Lewis Hamilton, a seven-time world champion. While he acknowledges Hamilton’s exceptional talents and smarts, he emphasizes that Verstappen excels at what matters most on the track.
“Lewis is certainly extraordinary in many ways, not just in his racing skills, but also in his ability to manage people,” Ecclestone noted.
“But Max is singular in his ability to get the most out of a car. When it comes to life after racing, Lewis could easily transition to the entertainment world or something similar, whereas Max is more one-dimensional, in a good way.”
Ecclestone: “Max IS Formula 1…”
Ecclestone went on to explain that Verstappen embodies the true spirit of Formula 1 in a way that Hamilton does not.
“Max is a racer through and through,” he said. “He’s one of us. Lewis operates in a different orbit than the rest of us in the F1 community.”
Reflecting on Hamilton’s growth over the years, Ecclestone believes that much of his personality has been shaped by early challenges.
“I was quite short when I was at school and that shapes you…” offers Ecclestone as some insight,
“Lewis had his struggles early on, and that has definitely shaped him,” he said. “When you’re an underdog in some way, it forces you to become a fighter. You see this frequently in business.”
Ecclestone on George Russell
Ecclestone also had praise for George Russell, calling him “extremely gifted,” though he did criticize Russell for not being as strategic as Hamilton.
“I think he doesn’t think through his races as well as Lewis does,” says Ecclestone.
He even gave a nod to McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri, describing him as “promising.” But for Ecclestone, the conversation always comes back to Verstappen.
“Max is the best I’ve ever witnessed,” he concluded.
Ecclestone led Formula 1 until 2017, stepping down after Liberty Media’s acquisition. Though he initially held an honorary title, it was stripped from him in 2020, and he has since been deemed persona non grata within Liberty Media circles.
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