Gerhard Berger is almost certain: Max Verstappen will be crowned world champion again in 2024. According to the former driver of Ferrari and McLaren, among others, Red Bull Racing and Verstappen are simply too big for the rest of the field, although the Austrian thinks that the other top teams will close the gap to Red Bull.
There was no limit to Verstappen in 2023. Together with the Red Bull team, he formed an almost unbeatable combination. With nineteen wins from twenty-two games, the 26-year-old Dutchman had an unprecedentedly strong season and the difference with the competition was so great that, according to Berger, Verstappen is also the towering favorite for the world title in 2024. The Austrian explains why.
“The combination of Verstappen and Red Bull is very strong, the team is stable, everyone in the team has confidence and the regulations have not changed,” Berger lists a number of reasons for a new Verstappen title in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport on. “These are good reasons to still consider Max (Verstappen, ed.) as the favorite for the championship,” says the 64-year-old, who expects that the Dutchman will face more opposition in 2024. ‘Red Bull was dominant last year and that put Max in a comfortable situation. He was always able to maintain a big lead, but I expect Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes to get closer in 2024.’
Impressive on and off the track
Verstappen not only managed to impress Berger on the track last season, but the former Formula 1 driver is also full of praise for the three-time world champion in other areas. “The most impressive thing, besides his hunger for victories, is the fact that he never makes mistakes,” the Austrian begins. ‘He is very experienced and mature, despite his young age, and he knows how to best deal with every situation on and off the track. It doesn’t matter whether it concerns strategy, politics or media relations, he does not want to draw attention to himself and that is why I find him sympathetic,” said Berger.
Important advantage Verstappen compared to other greats
Given his successes in the premier class of motorsport, it is not surprising that Verstappen is considered one of the best drivers in the history of the sport. However, according to Berger, Verstappen did have a few important advantages over a number of other greats. ‘Max is part of a new generation of drivers who grew up with karting and the simulator. In the past, Ayrton Senna, Stefan Belloff and Michael Schumacher only had the kart as an option for training. This allowed Verstappen to develop other qualities and further perfect his driving.’
According to the 64-year-old former driver, the fact that he comes from a racing family has also done him no harm. “His father and mother, both former racing drivers, also contributed by teaching him the tricks of the trade,” Berger concludes.