Sebastian Vettel salutes lightning-fast overtaking instincts of Max Verstappen

Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen. Spa, August 2021. Credit: Alamy
Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen. Spa, August 2021. Credit: Alamy

Sebastian Vettel has been full of praise for Max Verstappen after two years which saw the Dutchman succeed Vettel as the latest Red Bull World Champion.

Before Verstappen’s title victory in 2021, Vettel had been the solitary champion in Red Bull’s 15-year history but the Dutchman has now twice added his name to the famous Drivers’ Championship trophy.

While the drivers did not compete against each other when they were both at their peak, they have had plenty of experience together on the track as the 2023 season will be Verstappen’s ninth in the sport and his first without Vettel also on the grid.

Now that he is happily retired, Vettel has been praising the driver many have touted as his successor to the title of greatest ever Red Bull driver.

“I can only congratulate Max,” Vettel told Austrian station ServusTV. “His performance in 2022 was phenomenal. If you see what he does with his car, it’s clear: he has an amazing feeling for his car.”

With an average of 223.5 points a season, and 424.75 in the past two years, Verstappen is well on his way to surpassing Vettel’s personal tally with 1,086.5 points separating the pair despite the 10 years separating them in age.

Vettel has remarked that while he finds it easy to pick up techniques from other drivers when competing, Verstappen’s natural ability has made that impossible to do with the Dutchman.

“I mean, you’re in the car yourself and we’ve had a few duels on track,” Vettel said of Verstappen. “You can always pick something up from your opponents and then you sometimes think about trying it yourself, whether you think you can or if it should work. But with Verstappen I rarely had that thought.

But if there was one area that Vettel believed Verstappen was a cut above in, it was overtaking and his lightning-fast ability to recognize an opportunity and to quickly pull it off.

“To be honest, there were one or two situations that went through my head, but I don’t know if I could do the same,” Vettel said when thinking back to some of Verstappen’s overtakes.
“It is about manoeuvres in certain circumstances and in certain attacks. You think about it afterwards and come to the conclusion that you can’t.

“Max has an excellent sense of attack timing. The fact that he recognises a moment, interprets it correctly and quickly uses the situation to his advantage: that is very impressive.”

Verstappen has been as complimentary of Vettel in the past, in particular the way the four-time World Champion conducts himself off the track.

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