Rene Arnoux, the renowned seven-time grand prix winner of the early 80s, predicts a challenging 2024 season for the rivals of Max Verstappen. The 75-year-old Frenchman, while acknowledging Verstappen’s exceptional talent, highlighted his remarkable machine in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Arnoux praised Verstappen, stating, “Max is a fabulous driver,” but also noted the Red Bull racer’s significant advantage. He elaborated, “Take a look at the on-board camera footage. Max brakes, turns, holds the steering wheel still and draws a clean line through the corner. The other drivers have to constantly make corrections at the wheel,” and compared it to his own racing era. Arnoux’s projection for the upcoming season is clear: “If Red Bull builds such a good car for 2024, it will be another tough year for Verstappen’s opponents.”
However, Arnoux sees potential in Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, a driver he believes could challenge Verstappen. “We can say with certainty that Charles Leclerc was very unhappy this year,” he observed, “But his performances were consistently good, in complete contrast to Carlos Sainz.” He placed Leclerc among the world’s top drivers, suggesting he’s on par with Verstappen. “For me, Leclerc is one of the world’s best drivers – in Verstappen’s group,” Arnoux said. “Max might have a little more bite. But as I said, with a car like that it is also easier for Verstappen to show performance at such a high level. The Ferrari literally ate the tyres. After five laps of a grand prix, Max was already relaxing.”
Arnoux also reviewed Sainz’s season, acknowledging his standout performance in Singapore but recognizing that he fell short in other races. “Sainz gave a fantastic performance in Singapore, but in most of the other races, he fell short of expectations.”