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Ayrton Senna vs Max Verstappen: Is this a logical and a just comparison?

Senna vs Verstappen: a comparison that
Senna vs Verstappen: a comparison that's hard to avoid!
Dev Tyagi
Modified 01 May 2019

1st May 2019 marks 25 years since the passing of Ayrton Senna. The tumultuous events of 1994 haven't been forgotten and die-hard fans of the sport may never forgive Imola and in particular, the Tamburello corner.

But back in his native Brazil, the date is celebrated as Ayrton Senna day.

The 1994 San Marino Grand Prix may have consumed arguably F1's greatest talent but the man hasn't been forgotten and won't ever be. Not since Senna has the sport seen someone so driven to win and risk it all in the pursuit of winning- isn't it?

Perhaps this is why it hardly comes as a surprise that Ayrton Senna is as revered as he is missed. The drives at Monaco, the rivalry with Prost, the legendary stint with McLaren, and the touch of compassion for those who came from the not so privileged backgrounds, Ayrton Senna's genius stemmed from the fact that he was a human veiled in the guise of a world champion.

As his documentary evocatively put it,

"there was this thrill, this energy about Senna - that it endeared him to his fans as also to those who dreaded his triumphs. And it mustn't be forgotten that to the day of his very last drive, the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, Italy, the multiple world champion didn't compromise on his craft."

That said, important to note that to this day, Senna reflects both - the drive for perfection and the passion to win just the way he stands for statistical excellence in F1 and perhaps a fanatic sense of devotion to speed.

Here's a reference to the context. In the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix, Senna was so fully into the contest and so far ahead than the rest that he had to be told to 'slow down.' Eventually, he would crash only to see his bitter rival Alain Prost win the contest. Senna, not gutted or despairing seemed contemptuous of himself. You could sense the rage in the way he eloped from the street circuit.

Decades after the majestic Brazilian's passing, we have amid us on the grid a man known as Max Verstappen. Not for nothing is the 21-year-old called "Mad Max."

Like most drivers, Max loves to win and what he loves more is a good fight. Truth be told, he's not the most graceful of his opponents and isn't grandiose in defeat or during times of duress.


The passion, drive to win, and the natural speed all make him one of a kind and where the others stand, then probably, quite like Ayrton Senna.

Surprised? Wondering if this is some new-age shenanigan deliberately delivered to make fresh conversation about a sport that's currently busy in exploring a greater global footprint? Well, think again.

None other than Damon Hill has shared his true feelings about Max Verstappen, a man who picked up his maiden win in 2016, as a teenager. Here's what Damon Hill - interestingly a man who was Senna's teammate during the Brazilian's final F1 year (at Williams) shared- in reference to Verstappen's often confrontational nature on the grid,

There was another chap in F1 that used to occasionally bump into people when he needn't have done.

"I'm actually thinking of Senna. It's like there's a pattern that evolves when they are very young, and they don't understand.

"Clearly Ocon should not have got himself in a tangle situation with the race leader. But Max diced with him, instead of going. 'What is this guy playing at?"

But while the above may not bring Verstappen any smile, Hill's reference being the infamous Ocon vs Verstappen incident of 2018, the Briton isn't the only F1 personality to have harboured such feelings about the Dutchman versus the Brazilian debate.

Others, including Mercedes Team boss Toto Wolff also happens to feel that Verstappen has shades of Senna in his personality. Wondering how?

Here's a quote worth noting,

"He (Max) is dangerous and not the easiest of drivers to beat out there. Furthermore, Martin Brundle, who's seen Senna compete at the highest level closely shared his piece of mind, "He's (Max) brilliantly established himself in the psyche of others to be approached with caution. Just as Ayrton Senna did."

In lines with the above, one can't help but reminisce the number of times that Max Verstappen- a winner of 5 Grands Prix and someone tipped for future greatness- may have truly lived the moniker 'Mad Max' due to his attacking instincts. But a question remains to be asked,

F1 Grand Prix of Brazil
F1 Grand Prix of Brazil

Is this aggressive streak and ability to pick up a great battle on the grid the only traits that liken him to Senna?

What about the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix? Did one not see the shades of Donnington Park, 1993 back then? Just how many people actually imagined Max Verstappen to have risen as high as third on the podium after he dropped down several places toward the lower end of the grid?

In a world ever ready to paint a talent as 'genius' and use cosmological terms in defining stars-wasn't Max Verstappen the 'Regenmeister' that day, and to make matters more interesting, one on the soil of the original regenmeister?

Greatness, it must be said, doesn't come to the one who wins it all. Rather, it comes to emrbace him who gives it his everything. Right?

Published 01 May 2019, 16:41 IST
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