Max Verstappen: Rookie F1 driver says he has nothing to fear from Michael Schumacher

Media playback is not supported on this device Max Verstappen ‘nervous’ before Monaco GP

When Formula 1’s youngest winner, Max Verstappen, claimed the Hungarian Grand Prix to extend his championship lead, he was lauded as the next Michael Schumacher.

Now the 20-year-old Red Bull driver says he was simply being polite, and insisting he “has nothing to fear” from the four-time world champion.

The Dutchman also insisted he had no plans to emulate Schumacher’s record of seven world titles.

“He is in the past,” Verstappen said of the German, now 42.

“If people don’t like my answer to that, then they don’t like me. I answered truthfully and I like my answer.

“I don’t know if he is still racing and there is the generation gap, who knows? If he is still racing, then what he has done is incredible. I’ve got nothing to fear.”

Verstappen finished sixth in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, his 13th of the season.

But he appears to have lost ground in the title race following a disappointing sixth place in Azerbaijan, when he had a 19-second lead in the last lap of the race before a brake failure prevented him overtaking his fellow Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

“I was a bit overconfident after the first two races of the season,” Verstappen said.

“I believed we had a lot of pace. After the result in Baku, I believed I had a big chance. I don’t know what happened in the end.

“With these setbacks, we need to keep learning from these things and not have too high expectations. It’s important to keep a calm head and to really learn and make mistakes quickly.”

Verstappen leads Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by 50 points

‘We have a big job to do’

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner also expressed surprise that so many people were comparing the Red Bull driver with the record-holder from the mid-1990s.

“It’s nice to be mentioned in the same sentence as Michael Schumacher because he is undoubtedly the greatest F1 driver ever,” Horner said.

“We don’t compare ourselves to Michael. We have a job to do and a big job to do. We’d love to be in with a chance in every race and then I think people will change their perspective.”

Meanwhile, Horner has said that his driver Mark Webber can use his status as Formula 1’s most prolific Australian driver in a mentoring role in the sport.

Webber scored 78 points in 24 races – 21 more than his championship rival, team-mate Schumacher, in 1994-95.

“Mark has had a fantastic career, being his country’s most successful driver at the highest level,” Horner said.

“The team are already talking about doing something special next year with Mark. We will see what develops in that area.”

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