Former Formula 1 driver Eddie Irvine has drawn parallels between Max Verstappen and F1 legend Michael Schumacher, with the Irishman believing the Red Bull star to be the fastest driver on the current grid.
With Red Bull finally designing a car that can compete with Mercedes, Verstappen has found himself in the lead of the Driver's Championship after the first six rounds of the 2021 season. The Dutchman's has been ultra-consistent leading Irvine to compare the Red Bull star with a certain Ferrari legend.
"It’s a bit like the Michael Schumacher effect," Irvine said in an interview with Betway.com.
"He’s [Verstappen] always been super-fast, and you can see that he’s by far the most dominant team leader on the grid. He’s had many, many different second drivers in the team and none of them have got close to him.
"While Lewis [Hamilton] has been regularly outqualified and outperformed by his teammates, you’d have to say Verstappen is probably the ultimate talent, although Lewis is a consummate professional and has very few weak spots.
"The 2021 season so far has been amazing. Verstappen is definitely the fastest driver out there at the minute, but you have to say Lewis Hamilton is probably still the top driver. It’s been fantastic to watch those two guys go at it. I think it’s going to be a great season."
Irvine also weighed in on the recent back and forth comments both drivers have made to the media.
"I never had a problem with getting personal," Irvine explained.
"For me it was all in one, the professional and personal situation. All’s fair in love and war and I see Formula 1 as war so I really had no problem with criticising or saying anything that I felt would help me. I was there for me and my team, and I didn’t care about anyone else."
The Irishman then highlighted the roles of Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez, bluntly stating that both drivers were there to support their more talented teammates.
"Their jobs are to do the best they can do, that’s it," Irvine stated.
"Bottas has beaten Hamilton before, more often than he has lately. Perez is new in there against Verstappen, but Verstappen has shown that the game is already over. They’re both de facto No. 2s, but I don’t think against two guys like Hamilton and Verstappen that’s a great negative.
"I don’t think anybody in Formula 1 would go up against those two guys and regularly beat them. I think Hamilton is getting older now and his pace isn’t as good as it used to be, but he’s still, as I said, a consummate professional.
"I think people know that anyone who goes against Verstappen is going to get beaten because of his pure speed."
Irvine finally provided some insight into what is was like working with Michael Schumacher.
"Being Schumacher’s teammate was amazing in one way because I got to work with who I still believe is the greatest driver of all time," Irvine explained.
"Obviously, you never look particularly good when you’re up against someone like Michael Schumacher. But I was lucky in a way because by the time I got there, Schumacher was very much seen as special.
"It was hard to learn from Michael because it was just pure talent. He just had an amazing ability to extract the most out of a racing car. That was that."