A new era of Schumacher or Hamilton-style dominance is now well underway in Formula 1, according to Michael Schumacher’s former teammate Felipe Massa.
“I think that’s happening now,” the Brazilian told Germany’s Bild newspaper after qualifying in Saudi Arabia.
However, despite Max Verstappen’s utter dominance of the Jeddah weekend so far, the back-to-back world champion suffered a driveshaft problem aboard his Red Bull and will start the grand prix well down the order.
“It is tempting to think about victory,” said Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, who is promoted to second on the grid behind Sergio Perez as a result of Charles Leclerc’s ten-place penalty.
“But on pure pace, I think Red Bull is in another league,” the Spaniard added.
“Without another mechanical problem or something else that happens to the Red Bulls, it is not feasible,” Alonso said.
“So we are going to try to do a simple race without errors and get as many points as we can.”
Ferrari’s Leclerc was the second fastest car on the road on Saturday but he thinks Red Bull is “on another planet”.
41-year-old Alonso even thinks it is possible Verstappen will roar through the field from 15th on the grid and potentially even win on Sunday.
“I think Max will eventually catch me, they have that advantage,” he said.
“I think there is no doubt that he will be on the podium, minimum.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff joked that Red Bull may simply be trying to drive up interest in the new era of Verstappen dominance by faking the driveshaft problem.
“Maybe they’ve done it on purpose to get a win all the way from the back,” he said.
What is definitely not a joke is that Verstappen and Red Bull look set to lead from the front in Formula 1 for some time – even years more, according to Massa.
“I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t get the hat-trick,” he said. “And much more than that.
“Max can also win four, five or six titles in a row.”