Prost vows to catch up with Verstappen in Abu Dhabi
"He has joined a very exclusive club"
F1 legend Alain Prost says he will catch up with Max Verstappen and welcome him to a "very exclusive club".
In Mexico, Dutchman Verstappen won his sixteenth grand prix of the 2023 season - breaking his own record.
When asked what’s next, the 26-year-old smiled: "Seventeen? Nineteen? I don’t know."
Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko tips Verstappen to achieve his prediction.
"At the beginning of the year we wouldn’t have thought any of this was possible," the team advisor told Bild newspaper. "But there are still three races left so why not?"
But with Sunday’s win, Verstappen also drew even with a long-standing and well-known Formula 1 statistic - his 51st Formula 1 win, the same as quadruple world champion Prost.
"Only five people have this number of victories," 68-year-old Prost, retired from F1 since 1993, told the French sports daily L’Equipe.
"Five in the entire history of F1. I am not ashamed to say that I am proud to be in this hall of fame."
With three races still to run in 2023, it’s also possible that Verstappen will equal and potentially race past Sebastian Vettel’s 53 career wins as well by the time of the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi.
Prost announced that he will catch up with Verstappen at the season finale.
"I will go to Abu Dhabi and I will certainly congratulate him there," said Prost. "I will tell him that he has joined a very exclusive club and that this is an achievement in itself.
"I will also tell him that he is a driver that I respect for his determination and talent. And finally, that I am neither jealous nor sad when I am beaten by an athlete of his calibre."
And by the end of 2024, it’s also very possible Verstappen will win his fourth consecutive drivers’ world champion, drawing even with Prost and Vettel.
Prost continued: "Max is still in the making and that is just as wonderful."
Vettel aside, the only F1 drivers with more than 51 victories to their names are Michael Schumacher (91) and outright record holder and fellow seven time world champion Lewis Hamilton (103).
Prost wouldn’t bet against Verstappen surpassing those incredible records either.
"My story is over," said the former McLaren, Ferrari and Williams driver, "but it was beautiful and now Max’s story is just as beautiful, in its own way."
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