Autosport (UK)

Max Verstappen

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Verstappen, famously, has incredible ability where a car is moving around, but he’s actually got unbelievab­le car control on corner entry. That’s where he’s doing all his winning, because he can steer the car and carry a huge amount of speed into the apex in the medium/slow-speed corners.

He does his by steering the car with his feet. He comes off the throttle, gets on the brakes and gets the rear of the car rotating – after an early steering input – and balances the car on the edge of grip. He can cope with the rear movement that an extremely responsive front end creates, which means he’s done a whole load of steering before even getting to the apex. When he’s there, he can actually release the steering lock. You can often see that Verstappen has already got fewer degrees of steering lock compared to Sergio Perez at an apex, all because he’s steered the rear of the car on the way in. The steering lock release also comes with a benefit for tyre wear in the races – there’s less lateral g in the accelerati­on phase – and it all comes back to the corner approach. Verstappen is usually also inch-perfect in terms of using the full width of the track and judging its edge, especially in places like Suzuka.

Everything is done in a very controlled manner. He’s able to live with this rear movement and not only just live with it – love it. That’s the style he’s developed. It’s actually very reminiscen­t of Michael Schumacher at the peak of his powers in the 1990s. Michael had shown that strength at Benetton and Ferrari, and it’s why none of his team-mates could live with him. Including, intriguing­ly, Jos Verstappen.

The difference with Max and Michael is that Verstappen is a bit smoother with his steering inputs. If you watch his hands on the wheel, he’s actually quite soft with his movements. He’s not aggressive with the way he turns the wheel. But on street tracks that comprise short, sharp 90-degree corners, that style doesn’t have as much of an advantage because here a car needs to be provoked – by getting it to rotate sharply and turned more aggressive­ly. This is why we saw Perez outpace Verstappen at places such as Baku in 2023.

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