Lando Norris said Max Verstappen’s dominance should not be taken for granted, hailing the Red Bull star as one of the greatest Formula One drivers that has ever lived.
Verstappen has won 10 of the 12 rounds so far and he will match Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine consecutive victories if, as widely expected, he triumphs again in front of 105,000 supporters at his home race in the Netherlands on Sunday.
The 25-year-old has starred since F1’s regulations were overhauled at the start of last season, with his comfortable victory at the concluding round before the break in Belgium his 19th from his last 23 outings.
He is a staggering 125 points clear in the standings as he closes in on a hat-trick of titles.
But it has been suggested that Verstappen’s reign in his all-conquering Red Bull machine – akin to Michael Schumacher’s emphatic dominance for Ferrari at the turn of the century – has been a turn-off for the sport’s booming fanbase.
However, McLaren’s Norris, a close friend of Verstappen’s, said: “We should definitely enjoy witnessing something like this. That’s better then just complaining because he’s doing so well.
“Of course, it would be nice to see him battle a bit more and work for a living more, but he proved enough of that when he raced Lewis (Hamilton) for the championship in 2021.
Lando Norris heads Max Verstappen in FP2! 💪
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 25, 2023
“He showed what a fighter he is and I can say without doubt that he is easily one of the best drivers ever. We shouldn’t take him for granted.”
In the build-up to this weekend’s event, Lewis Hamilton raised the prospect that Verstappen could win the 10 concluding races of the season.
There is even an outside chance that the Dutchman could wrap up the title at the Japanese Grand Prix on September 24, with half-a-dozen rounds still to run.
Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez started the year with two wins from four but his challenge faded rapidly.
“Everyone has their days when they are beatable and I think Max has that, too,” added Norris.
“But it’s just that no one is able to prove it because no one is close enough. The closest guy should be his team-mate and he isn’t doing it.
“So, I wouldn’t be surprised if he won the rest of the races this year. I don’t think anyone would be surprised to be honest with you.
“It would be an incredible achievement to win nine in a row and he is definitely capable of doing it.
“Max has said many times that his career might not last long. He’s a guy that just wants to do what he enjoys. As soon as he doesn’t enjoy it he could be out of here. That’s just the kind of guy he is.”