Horner: This was Max’s equivalent of Senna’s ’84 Monaco and Schumacher’s ’96 Spain
Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Nov 2016   |  10:05 pm GMT  |  465 comments

Max Verstappen’s drive to third place has drawn praise from all corners of the F1 paddock, but Christian Horner summed it up by comparing the drive to the legendary performances of Ayrton Senna at Monaco in 1984 and Michael Schumacher at Barcelona in 1996.

Both were wet weather drives of great confidence and bravura, featuring instinctive overtakes. Senna finished second to Alain Prost in Monaco, while Schumacher won in Spain.

Verstappen held second place until Red Bull pitted him for Intermediates, a very optimistic move which caused him to have to make up 13 places to regain the podium. So it was a different kind of drive.

Time will tell whether Verstappen will go on to achieve a fraction of what those two great drivers managed, but there is no question this was the breakthrough drive of his fledgling career. He has been a controversial figure at times this season with his defensive moves, but this was a drive of pure attack.

Max Verstappen

Responding to a question on comparisons with the legendary wet weather drives from this website, Horner said,

“I think it’s right up there; you have to compare it to those great moments. You don’t often witness a motor race like that, What we witnessed today was something very special.

“They don’t get much better than that. It was a difficult race for everyone, the conditions wet tricky all afternoon. He quickly moved past Kimi with a decisive move and from that point on you could see he meant business. The audacious move on Nico round the outside Turn 3 was the start of things to come.”

Later in the paddock Damon Hill, who was in the 1996 Spain race with Schumacher, also agreed that Verstappen’s drive deserved to be compared with the very best wet weather performances in the sport.

What struck Hill was the quality of the overtaking; the moves on Raikkonen and Rosberg were on similar tyre conditions whereas later his tyres were 20 laps fresher than many of the cars he was racing against, but Hill argues that this doesn’t matter; he highlighted the fact that the speed of instinct in the moves is what showed genius, not to mention complete self belief.

But he also pointed to the presence of mind to back out of some situations, knowing that he would go off track if he tried to insist. In contrast Sebastian Vettel and even Fernando Alonso found themselves off track in close combat.

Max Verstappen

Red Bull took a strategy gamble to try to win the race with Verstappen, pitting him when he was ahead of Rosberg in second place. It didn’t pay off because the rain intensified and Verstappen decided that the Intermediate tyres were not going to work and they went back to the wet tyres. This put him down in 16th place and he managed to fight back to finish third.

“All of his moves were great, losing very little time with the moves he made, said Horner. “He raced hard with Sebastian, with Kimi into Turn 1, I think he found grip and his confidence was extremely high.

“It demonstrates what a phenomenal talent he is.”

For all his bravado, this was a poor set of decisions by Red Bull on strategy, as we will analyse in the UBS Race Strategy Report here on Tuesday.

What did you think? Leave your comments in the section below

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

frankly i’d rather have seen Max battle with Lewis for the win.


Look, if you take a new wet tires when everybody has the “super old” ones and your car is RB ?

What are you talking about ? About what comparison to the greatest ???

Just wake up. Put him in the same “old wet” like everybody had at that lap and only then make comparison. You think that DR was worse under rain ?


What few people know is that in Dutch junior karting series, wet weather tires are forbidden. All drivers learn to drive in the wet on slicks, looking for the best grip. This is something that Max does well for that reason.


It has been interesting to look at everyone’s point of reference for great drives in the wet, being quite a bit older than most of the contributors I’ve been able to witness some great drives in the wet that probably took place before most of them were born. If you really need a bench mark for great drives in the wet consider this. In a very wet practice for the US Grand Prix, being held at Watkins Glen Gilles Villenuve was 11 seconds a lap quicker than the next placed car which was his team mate Jody Scheckter. The stopwatch doesn’t lie, when Max or Lewis are 11 seconds a lap quicker than their team mates in the wet then I’ll be impressed.


Helmut Marko saw Max racing in the rain Norisring 2014 wet conditions. He was 2 seconds faster per lap thn rest of the field. RedBull had seen enough and signed the 16 year old. When I see him racing, I see he is still in karting, now called F1. Brundle said it before the race Max is magical in the rain.


Does Max’s drive deserve to mentioned alongside the great wet weather F1 drives?

Of course. Maybe not the best wet weather drive of all time but absolutely deserves to be talked about in the same conversations as those. Along with Jenson Button in Canada 2011.

Lets not forget too that Senna and Schumachers drives have become etched into F1 history as time passes. We too may look back in 20 years at this drive in the same way.

What got me was how absolutely in control Max was. He knew exactly what he was doing and how he was going to do it. Compared against many drivers who seemed to be concentrating so hard just to stay on the road. It was sublime.

Two drivers were utterly brilliant in that race. Max and Lewis. I don’t recall Lewis making a single mistake. Nico can thank multiple safety cars for saving his face that day.


In his last charge through the field, Max was certainly helped by the newer set of tyres. But as I watched him overtaking as if he were lapping, I did think of Schumacher in Barcelona ’96.

Also, as he pitted for inters just before the pitlane was closed, I told my next-sitting friend: “he’s just won the race”. Though the race was all but over at that point…


Great drive, but Schumi still is and always will be the rain meister.


Max has a suburb “feeling” for the car and it’s limits. This wasn’t only the case during the rain race in Brazil, but it also has been the case for the controversial “moving of direction while breaking”! If this is just or not, the fact that Max keeps his car in perfect control of both situations, shows his unbelievable and sensible feeling for the car. His hardcore decisions in the race with raw pace, makes him a top 10 driver ever. He still has a lot to proof, but it speaks for him that he is only 19, and driving with a top team what understands marketing. It’s just waiting till Red Bull produces a new Red Bull Max, Super Charged Energy Drink, with Max V. In the commercials. A long long marriage in the make…


Great Drive from Verstappen: This guy is the real thing, its been a long time (more than 10 years) since someone has proven driver skill can make a difference above and beyond the machinery.


How about Vettel’s first win in a Toro Rosso/Italy?

How about Senna’s first win in a Lotus/Portugal?

They both had a lesser cars than their competitors at that time and they won in the rain.

Today’s Red Bull is not a lesser car than that of a Mercedes or a Ferrari on certain tracks.

As such, hard to be convinced that this one is up to the very best as many had said IMHO.


I don’t get the adulation.

He was in the car with the most aerodynamic grip. His tyres were 25 laps fresher than those in front of him. He was overtaking a bunch of cars who were in a high position due to strategy and caution rather than sheer pace and focusing on finishing in the points instead of battling for position: a Manor, a Sauber, a Torro Rosso, a Force India and a Ferrari (that had already had a torrid day).

There was no negative to a cavalier approach to racing for Max. The Red Bull championship position won’t change.

If he was driving to win a championship as Hill and Schumacher were at Suzuka 1994, I might tend to agree. If he put his car where it had no right to be as Alonso did at Sepang in 2012, I may agree.

This was just the drive of someone making use of an advantage and nothing to lose driving against very cautious competitors with too much to lose.


I agree. One of the first more ‘learned’ views of the drive by Max.
Of course it was a very good drive, of course he took advantage of the car and fresh tyres and he did think to use different lines (which is not the first time someone has done that)……………
And he was in one of the best cars aero-wise.

But i remember both Senna and Schumi’s drives and others before live (since i am old). These were better in worse cars when others had the same.

But in todays world we need to over value everything…Max is a great potential…..as was a lot of others…..see how he goes in his second year driving for a top team.


Could somebody please tell Vettel to stop wining??? He is starting to really annoy..


Hi james,

Found out where my complaint from last time comes from..

One can always reply to a post, unless you choose the selector to newest first.. 😉

Please repair;) ???


Max was brilliant yesterday and it was a masterclass from him but I get the sense the media and commentators are getting just a tiny bit hyperbolic in their comparisons. It’s in Horner’s interest to talk up his driver too.

Comparing Max’s drive to Senna in 84 and Schumacher 96…..what we are maybe losing sight of in the heat of the moment Is forgetting is both of them were driving donkeys at the time.

Max is brilliant and deserves credit but let’s not forget he is driving a car which produces as much downforce if not more than the class leading Mercedes.


I always find the more balanced comments are from people lower down the order – away from the one-eyed/blinkered followers than make emotional rather than rational comments. Well done.

I agree completely, great drive and really well thought using the unused tarmac and getting more grip.

I don’t understand why other drivers don’t do this when it is so well known?


Outstanding talent, just like alonso in the renault. Deserves all credit, no doubt.


It drives me bonkers when someone hails it the best thing since sliced bread when circumstances allow a driver to steam through the field like we saw yesterday with Max. Look, the kid is good, but the drive wasn’t of the calibre that some are comparing it to. Nowhere near. There is no doubt who the best driver was, by a very long way when Senna won at Donnington or Michael won in Spain. Superb though Verstappen was yesterday, Hamilton was at least his equal (under the intense pressure of knowing that a single slipup would cost him any chance of retaining the WDC), getting the job done from the front after watching any lead he built up neutralised for the umpteenth time. Max did great, but he didn’t ever really threatened to win, and you can’t really say that he finish somewhere where the car shouldn’t have allowed. Why no love for Perez, who I thought had an equally sublime if rather less spectacular afternoon?


and Senna did it on the first lap, without safety car intervention, being the pioneer!…..please someone tell me Max’s drive is better than this ????


What shines through is the will to win. He’s going to send that car to the front or park it, whichever comes first.


He hasn’t parked it that often at all, actually, considering he’s always driving on the edge.


What I love about Max Verstappen is that he appears completely unphased by the calibre of those he is racing with. He comes across as being very intelligent and mature, as well as self-confident and full of self-belief. Messrs Schumacher, Vettel and Hamilton were the same when they first arrived on the F1 stage: hopefully Max’s father will ensure he keeps his feet on the ground, and that he doesn’t become cocky and unlikeable like the other three.


I was considering that my iconic moments for drivers always seemed to be wet races, and I was putting Max level with my visualisations for Jenson – a birds eye view of him speeding fearlessly along the straight of a Canadian GP; and Lewis – being lifted out of a gravel pit while the curve of track behind him was near invisible in the conditions, and because he had kept his engine running, being set down on the track and able to rejoin (no idea what race, year, or how he did; that is just the snapshot I remember).

Excellent drive by Max. Only better than Lewis in that the race leader made no passes, because Hamilton was sublime.


Both HAM & VES have the best cars for rain noticing a huge diference, but they squeezed their cars and demonstrate great class. A pitty not to have similar chances for VET or ALO to enjoy the real competition between the greats. In some cars as McLaren the challenge was to maintain the car in track so the different onboards show how tricky could be just stay in the track meanwhile in others looks like he had driving on a dry track.


Horner is full of it. Wouldn’t expect anything else from him


I’ve been watching F1 for nearly 20 years and that for me was up there with the best display in terms of wet weather skills. The other that springs to mind is Lewis, not at Silverstone in 08, where impressive as is was, all he did was disappear into the distance, but at Monza in 08. Everyone remembers it as the race Vettel won in the Toro Rosso and it was a great drive by him but I remember Lewis charging through the field (can’t remember why he was further back now, think it was Mclaren and dodgy tyre strategy) miles quicker than anyone else and not being able to watch when he was throwing it up the inside of people and somehow managing to stop the car in time, don’t think he finished particularly highly but in terms of wow factor and skills it sticks in my mind.

What would have been good is if Max had stuck to full wets and been able to set off in pursuit of Hamilton, then we could have got a rainmeister showdown, as I think Hamilton was just cruising.


Exactly! Hamilton in Monza 2008 was astonishing!
He charged from the back of the grid, absolutely on fire (kinda like Verstappen now in Brazil) but Mclaren made a mistake with their tire choice and his race was pretty much ruined, finished only 7th or something like that.


James I know this is off topic but considering Ferrari can no longer catch RBR in the WCC do you think Ferrari may drop the intention to appeal the Mexico result as they still couldn’t mathematically get 2nd in the WCC off RBR now even with a reversed result.


Who knows? Probably

It’s mystifying why they persist


I’le bet its Vettel hes obsessive


I can’t say I’m a big fan of Max the man, but his driving yesterday was a masterclass. I was utterly spellbound – the perfect antidote to the stop/start nature of the race previously.

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