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Not Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg Names Then-Teenage Hotshot As the Best Driver He’s Faced

Vidit Dhawan

Not Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg Names Then-Teenage Hotshot As the Best Driver He's Faced

Nico Rosberg has faced a plethora of legendary drivers throughout his illustrious F1 career. Moreover, he has also been teammates with two seven-time World Champions: Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. But despite being partnered up with arguably two of F1’s greatest ever, Rosberg chooses Max Verstappen as the toughest racer he ever faced.

Verstappen was just a teenager (18) during Rosberg’s final season in F1. Still, he chooses the Dutchman over Hamilton and Schumacher which shows how highly the German driver regards him. When asked about who his toughest competitor was, he said,

It has to be Verstappen because he’s very soon going to be a top five of all time. With (Ayrton) Senna, (Michael) Schumacher, Lewis (Hamilton), and (Juan Manuel) Fangio. It’s easy actually“.

All the drivers Rosberg put next to Verstappen’s name have won more than three Championships. Senna has three, Fangio has five whereas Schumacher and Hamilton stand as the most successful with seven each. At the age of just 26 today, Verstappen has matched Senna’s tally and if early signs are to be taken into account in 2024, he could end up winning his fourth by the end of the year.

Rosberg previously mentioned how he dreaded coming across Verstappen while battling Hamilton during the 2016 Championship. The Red Bull driver always put up a strong fight, despite driving a considerably weaker car (at the time).

Nico Rosberg once explained the stress Max Verstappen gave him

In 2016, Rosberg was desperate to emulate his father Keke’s Championship winning success (1982). He made all the right moves until the season finale, after a grueling battle with best friend turned rival Lewis Hamilton. All he had to do was win the final race in Abu Dhabi.

However, he had to fend off the challenge posed by Max Verstappen that evening.

Rosberg did manage to pass Verstappen and win the Championship in 2016, but he labeled his fight with him as one of the most stressful moments of his career. After the race, he said,

First of all with Max (Verstappen), of all days, I thought today I am not going to see him. And there he was again. I have had him all over the last couple of races, so there he was again. And the team says to me that it is critical now to pass, critical for the championship“,

Rosberg winning the race was all he had to do to secure the Championship, because he needed a five point (or more) gap to the Briton. Thankfully, with both Verstappen and Hamilton behind at the end of the race, Rosberg’s evening, and his F1 career, didn’t end in heartbreak.

Post Edited By:Somin Bhattacharjee

About the author

Vidit Dhawan

Vidit Dhawan


Vidit Dhawan is the F1 writer and Editor at The SportsRush. He fell in love with the sport at first sight when F1 visited India in 2011. The noise and the racing action from lights out and away we go to the chequered flag are what keeps him at the edge of his seat at all times. Vidit has been a lifelong Fernando Alonso fan and sees Charles Leclerc as the future of the sport. Other than F1, he also follows football and tennis closely.

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