Can Max Verstappen Become The GOAT?

Can Max Verstappen be the GOAT?

Labeling any active sports figure as the greatest of all time is problematic—especially if the man in question is only 26 years old. However, there are no Formula 1 fans who would argue that Verstappen already hasn’t elevated himself into a bracket not far off from the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher.

While he definitely isn’t alongside them yet, it’s exciting to see such a dominant figure emerge in F1, and many fans believe that his best years are ahead of him. But what will it take for him to win over those who might think he’s a tad overrated and cement himself as the best ever to do it?

Max’s Marketability

Whether it’s a fair assessment or not, many of the top F1 drivers of their day are also ranked on their marketability and earnings. This can vary from generation to generation, given that different levels of sponsorship money come and go into the world’s most valuable motorsport.

Some of the top sports figures in the world often have their brand attached to all sorts of products. Mike Tyson had his own video game back in the 1990s. Michael Jordan and his Air Jordan sneakers became one of the most successful footwear brands of all time because of their attachment to the man many believe is the greatest basketball player of all time. Some famous soccer stars have even allowed their image rights to be used in casino gaming for slot machine game ideas.

While Verstappen doesn’t have a slot machine named after him yet, you can play slots with driving and F1-style themes, so there’s clearly a market crossover there for F1 and slot gaming fans. Max’s endorsements are some of the most valuable anywhere in the sporting world, so we imagine that having a slot game with an F1 theme or adorning his face and image rights might not be too high on his agenda.

Some of his endorsements include Tag Heuer, Puma, G-Star Raw, and, of course, Red Bull. Suppose he can continue to rack up dominant Championship wins. In that case, there’ll be no shortage of prominent companies looking to land multi-million dollar business deals with the precocious Dutch-Belgian talent.

Piling Up The Awards – Becoming Top Of The Stats

Verstappen has already collected a range of impressive records in Formula 1 – he holds the records for the most consecutive wins and pole positions. He is also the youngest-ever driver to win a Grand Prix. It’s his performance and consistency over the last three years that have propelled him into the GOAT conversation, though. Although F1 fans who have been keeping a close eye on him since 2016 have been aware of the immense skillset he brings to the table. Max’s determination on the track and his relentless drive to be the best are two attributes you can’t teach.

Even when he was just 18 years old, it was clear that he would become a phenomenal F1 talent. He’s already putting significant distance between himself and the rest of the chasing pack this season, with many current and ex-F1 drivers claiming he is the talent of the century.

Ultimately, it’s the stats that people won’t be able to argue with when he eventually retires. If he continues on the trajectory he’s currently on, he could easily match or surpass Hamilton and Schumacher, who are tied on 7.

Final Opinion

By chalking up three consecutive titles in his last three seasons, he has aligned himself in the all-time great charts against some decent drivers you might have heard of, Niki Lauda and Ayrton Senna, to name a few. The sportsbooks can often be a strong indicator for the upcoming season, and Max is already leading the way for this year’s Championship. If he can make it four in a row, that’ll put him just three wins behind Hamilton and Schumacher, who have seven between them.

While it might seem inevitable that Max will continue on his path and dominate the rest of the decade, some F1 fans use the example of Seb Vettel. Here was another precocious talent who seemed to be well on his way to eclipsing some of the GOATs, and while Vettel is undeniably one of the best of his generation and was one of the few drivers who could actually pose a challenge for Lewis Hamilton, he ran out of momentum quite spectacularly following his 4th consecutive F1 championship in 2013.

Verstappen has a few things in his favor – and the most important is that nobody really has the talent or consistency to challenge him. Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris are excellent world-level drivers who would probably win a few championships if Verstappen wasn’t about. However, Max has proven himself to be so far ahead of them that the only thing that could really stop him from getting to the Schumacher/Hamilton level is a severe injury or a considerable dip in Championship-winning form, as we saw from Vettel around a decade ago.

Kunal Shah is an FIA-accredited Formula 1 journalist who has been reporting on Formula 1 for nearly two decades. He worked with the Force India Formula 1 Team for 6 seasons in Marketing, Sponsorship and Commercial roles. As a former single-seater racer, he was responsible for Force India's grassroots talent program, One from a Billion Hunt. Presently, he co-writes a regular Formula 1 column for Firstpost, speaks on Inside Line F1 Podcast & Pits to Podium and produces broadcast/OTT content for NENT Group (Viasport & Viaplay).

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