Former Toro Rosso driver and two-time Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne has compared Max Verstappen to Usain Bolt following his domination of Formula 1 this season.
Victory in Hungary for Verstappen sealed his seventh win in a row in an outstanding season for the Dutch driver, who now has more Grand Prix victories than the legendary Ayrton Senna.
That win at the Hungaroring also extended Verstappen’s lead to 110-points at the top of the standings, meaning he is firmly on course for a third world title.
It has also been a year to remember for Red Bull, too, who broke McLaren’s record for the most consecutive grand prix victories following Verstappen’s success in Hungary, taking their winning run to 12 in a row.
Some, though, have complained about Red Bull’s dominance, with some races turning into a procession for Verstappen at the front as the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari, Aston Martin and McLaren all struggle to keep up with the Dutch sensation.
However, Vergne – who was replaced by Verstappen at Toro Rosso back in 2015 – feels fans should be more appreciative of the ‘untouchable’ reigning world champion.
Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT, Vergne said: “I think it’s always great to have an end to a championship like the one you just said in 2021 between Lewis [Hamilton] and Max.
“I don’t think it’s bad or good that Max and Red Bull are so strong. It’s just that we are witnessing greatness on both the driver’s side and the team’s side and it cannot be bad for the sport.
“I don’t understand the people that are saying it’s bad. It’s just that the others have to wake up or be more talented.
“When you look at the 100 metres when Usain Bolt was winning everything it was something that was fantastic for the sport. Everybody was witnessing greatness. It’s kind of easier to see in this sport because you see the muscles, you see the face [and] you see the guy sweating.
“In Formula 1, you’ve got the car and you cannot really tell who is who. But what Max is doing is out of this world and, as I said, if people actually realised how good he was and the things he is able to do that no one else can [than] I think they might enjoy watching the moment of history being made at the moment.
“What people have a tendency to forget is that he didn’t get there by luck. He pushed to have the best engineer coming and he pushed to have the team completely around himself. It’s not only his talent on track that talks; it’s also all the work himself and his management have done to be in such a position. You have to respect that.”
Vergne is in London ahead of the Formula E finale at the Excel Centre this weekend, but it has been a frustrating season for the French driver.
The two-time Formula E champion currently sits in fifth place in the table and has no chance of competing for another title this weekend.
Vergne is desperate to be fighting at the front of the pack next year and called for his team DS Penske to provide him with a better car ahead of the new season.
“Yeah, it’s been a pretty bad season. I’m in fifth [and] have no chance of winning the championship, mathematically speaking,” he finished.
“I’m not really enjoying being in that position in the championship. Obviously, I’m here and I want to win and I’m working very hard for that. I don’t know if it’s enough or I don’t know if I have a car which is good enough to allow me to win the championship.
“Clearly, I’ve probably worked the hardest of any season this year and it’s been very difficult to get the good results. I find it very frustrating. I’ve had some podiums and a nice win. Clearly, it’s not enough and I’m not very happy with that.
“First of all, before wanting to win next season, we have to make some changes in the team with the car, because Stoffel Vandoorne is the world champion and he is the one that won the championship last year [and he is in 11th].
“Then on the other team with Maserati, which has the same powertrain as us, with Edoardo Mortara – who I think was second in the world championship last year – is 15th in the championship [this year].
“It shows that, clearly, we don’t have the best car and in order to dream about winning the championship next year, we are going to have to make big changes since the car is going to be the same because it’s the same regulations.
“It doesn’t require big changes but we need to improve that car, as simple as that because we are not good enough today and it’s a fact and to win a championship is impossible. We just need to regroup, stick together and to work very hard and also very smartly to improve that car.”
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