F1 mastermind outlines what makes Verstappen the ‘perfect driver’

After clinching his first world title in 2021, Verstappen has gone from strength-to-strength, winning a record-breaking 15 races on his way to sealing a second successive drivers’ crown last year. 

And the two-time world champion is well on his way to a third consecutive world title after claiming five victories from the opening seven races so far in 2023.

Asked by Sky Italy if he thinks Verstappen is the perfect driver, Newey replied: “I think he is. He’s got tremendous car control and natural ability.

“He came in, maybe made some mistakes early on because he was pushing so hard, but now he’s really smooth and drives absolutely to the limit of the car, but within that he’s very thoughtful.

“He has a very good feeling from the tyres, we have seen that in several races over the last two years. He really has a good feel with how to use the tyres. With the tyre behaviour, that’s such an important factor now.”

Newey, who is considered one of F1’s best technical minds, has been responsible for designing championship-winning cars for some of the sport’s best drivers. 

As well as Verstappen, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Mika Hakkinen and Sebastian Vettel have all won titles driving Newey’s F1 cars. 

“Those drivers are all so different to each other,” Newey explained. 

“Nigel had huge self-confidence, a lot of upper-body strength, which in those days with no power steering and lots of downforce, was important. A fierce competitor out on track.

“Alain much more methodical, very articulate and testing was very frustrating because often he wouldn’t push himself. So you never quite knew where you were. But when he wanted to, he could turn it on.

“Mika and Kimi were very different. They didn’t say very much but what they did say, you had to take a lot of notice of and interpret what they were saying because they had different ways of putting things.

“Sebastian was a big thinker, long debriefs and spent a huge amount of time going through everything. Max is more in the middle. So very different characters but all phenomenal in their own right.”

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