Max Verstappen claims he ‘never’ looks at numbers, despite Red Bull star closing in on Ayrton Senna’s record of 41 wins ahead of Canadian Grand Prix
- Max Verstappen will equal Ayrton Senna’s record if he wins Canadian Grand Prix
- But he insists he’s not bothered as F1 of today can’t be compared to that of 1990s
- Lewis Hamilton, who has 103 wins, insists ‘records are there to be broken’
It is astonishing to think that the man who this weekend is a near nailed-on certainty to equal Ayrton Senna’s total of wins, 41, was not even alive when the great Brazilian died at Imola.
That tragedy fell on the first day of May, 1994, and Max Verstappen wasn’t born until the last day of September 1997, though his father, Jos, made his debut that fateful season as team-mate to Michael Schumacher at Benetton.
But there is footage of Senna driving, a film about his life, and an enduring aura that keeps his legend kicking even among a younger breed. ‘I never look at the numbers,’ said Verstappen ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix. ‘But when I was a little kid I would never have imagined being in that company.
‘It is an amazing achievement but you cannot compare it. Back in the day, you had to drive the car so differently and there was a lot more going on.’
Asked to pick Senna’s best race, Verstappen pointed out there were many but chose the stunning opening lap at rain-soaked Donington in 1993, fifth to first in 75 seconds.
Max Verstappen will equal Ayrton Senna’s record of 41 wins he wins Canadian Grand Prix
The great Brazilian Senna died on the first day of May, 1994 following a tragic crash
Verstappen is matter-of-fact, a man without artifice. As his friend Lando Norris observed: ‘He has no ego. He is not interested in the things that come with being an F1 driver. These are his strengths.’
Of course, he is also blessed by the supremacy of his Red Bull and the opportunity longer seasons offer modern drivers to break records, but it is scarcely credible that the Dutchman is set to match Senna’s tally at the age of just 25.
No wonder Lewis Hamilton, who hid behind his father’s car to hide the fact he was crying on learning of his hero’s death, said here in Montreal that it was ‘absolutely’ possible Verstappen could eclipse his own standard of 103 wins not out.
‘He has a long career ahead of him and ultimately records are there to be broken,’ said the seven-time world champion magnanimously.
Of his team’s dominance and its suffocating consequences, Verstappen admitted: ‘For the sport, I understand people get bored if only one team is dominating.
Lewis Hamilton, who has 103 wins, insists ‘records are there to be broken’ ahead of Sunday
‘We have seen it at Mercedes, we have seen it at Ferrari and we have seen it at Red Bull in the past. I hope more teams can get it together and put themselves in a position to win.’
Despite a lack of opposition — Red Bull are set to notch 100 wins this weekend after seven victories out of seven so far this season — Verstappen finds it easy to maintain his level of complete dedication.
One suspects he is desperate to win every remaining race, a challenge in itself even if we take him at his word over not caring about numbers.
‘It is even more motivating knowing you have a winning car,’ he reasoned. ‘When you come to a weekend and P5 is the best you can achieve it is less stimulating. This is much better than anything else.’