F1 legend Gerhard Berger has delivered his verdict on who is the greatest driver of all time, with Lewis Hamilton narrowly missing out to Ayrton Senna. Berger, who raced for Benetton, Ferrari and McLaren among others between 1984 and 1997, did not put young gun Max Verstappen in the mix but suggested that he could add a new string to his bow in 2022.
Hamilton missed a golden opportunity to cement his legacy at the top of the sport last year when Verstappen agonisingly snatched victory, and subsequently the world title, on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. A win would have landed Hamilton with his eighth crown, one more than Michael Schumacher who currently sits joint-top with the Brit.
Despite the collection of world titles, Berger was keen to include former team-mate Senna in the GOAT conversation as he gave his verdict on how Hamilton stacks up against the iconic three-time world champion.
“I still put Senna as number one, because the charm of Senna and the personality of Senna was another level,” he told Autosport magazine, “But on the sporting side, I think Lewis is as good as Senna was.
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“At the end of the day, for me, after these 45 years I’ve been around here, Lewis and Senna are the two best I have seen.”
The early stages of this season suggest that Hamilton may have to be content with sharing the top spot as Mercedes have struggled to find a way around their crippling porpoising issues. Last time out in Jeddah the 37-year-old failed to make it out of Q1 and stumbled home in P10, which is hardly a sign that he can do more to cement his legacy this year.
Hamilton’s new team-mate, George Russell, has fared slightly better over the two races so far but neither of the drivers are happy. With the Australian Grand Prix a week away, time is running out for the Silver Arrows mechanics to start finding answers before their competitors break clear in the drivers’ and constructors’ standings.
With the new ground effect cars in place, the current battle at the top is is between Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. The Prancing Horse have shown impressive consistency over pre-season tests and during the past two races, but with Red Bull threatening to spoil their party if they solve early reliability issues, Berger has tipped the Dutchman to change his approach from last year’s aggressive war with Hamilton.
“This year, if the [Red Bull] is the best car, maybe [Max] is going to adapt himself or he going to do it in a different way,” he added, “Maybe he doesn’t need to have this aggression.
“When you’re that aggressive and it doesn’t work out, and you touch each other, or you go out of the race, it hurts. [He might] say, ‘Okay for me it is worse if I lose this race some points, because I’m going to get it back another way’. It’s all about how good your package is.”