Red Bull’s Max Verstappen aiming for Formula One title hat-trick in 2023
In a breathtaking display of raw talent and determination, Max Verstappen conquered the 2022 F1 season with an astonishing 146-point lead over his closest rival, Charles Leclerc. This young Dutch sensation shattered record after record on his way to clinching his second world title, raising the tantalizing question: could Verstappen be on track to become F1’s statistical GOAT?
In 2022, Max Verstappen completed the season with a 146-point lead over his closest rival Charles Leclerc, setting a new record for the most race wins in a single season.
The Dutch racing prodigy continued to make history in 2022, adding more impressive accomplishments to his existing records as the youngest driver, victor, and podium finisher in F1 history.
Verstappen broke even more records while capturing his second world title last season. He won an unprecedented 15 out of 22 races, including nine of the final 11, surpassing the previous high of 13 wins held by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.
Additionally, he accumulated the highest-ever points total in an F1 season with 454. His 146-point advantage over runner-up Charles Leclerc in the drivers’ championship was the second largest in history.
Following his most extraordinary season yet, Verstappen seems poised to challenge the all-time records for most wins and world championship titles.
Currently ranked sixth in the all-time standings with 35 Grand Prix victories, Verstappen remains considerably behind Lewis Hamilton’s record of 103 wins. Furthermore, he is five titles away from equaling Hamilton and Schumacher’s shared record of seven world championships.
To put this into perspective, Verstappen would need to average 5.3 wins per year for the next 12 years and secure six additional championships to surpass these records.
Considering his youth and talent, it’s not implausible that Verstappen could eventually become F1’s statistical GOAT.
Dismissing this possibility entirely would be unwise, as many believed Schumacher’s accomplishments were insurmountable. However, several crucial factors must align for this to materialize.
Arguably, the most critical element is having a competitive car. Thankfully, this requirement is met with Red Bull’s strong performance in the new era of aerodynamic regulations.
The exceptional RB18, which claimed victory in all but five races last season, positions both the team and Verstappen ideally for another championship run in F1 2023.
Having just delivered his most persuasive and remarkable F1 season, there is little uncertainty regarding Verstappen’s current performance level.
Verstappen infrequently makes errors, and his innate speed and skill consistently place him in contention at the front of the pack. Additionally, he showcased a newfound maturity and composure that was potentially lacking in prior years.
To date, only four drivers have secured more than two consecutive titles, which is Verstappen’s upcoming challenge. To approach Schumacher and Hamilton’s records, Verstappen must maintain an exceptionally high level of consistency for an extended period.
Judging by the last two seasons, consistency is another strength Verstappen possesses. A near-perfect performance in back-to-back world championships has allowed Verstappen to achieve the kind of consistency demonstrated by Schumacher, Vettel, and Hamilton during their periods of dominance.
Furthermore, Red Bull is a savvy team. Over the past two years, they have made few mistakes, and they have a proven track record of orchestrating multiple world championship-winning seasons.
In 2022, the Red Bull operation functioned like a well-tuned machine. From strategic planning to pit stops, the team displayed efficiency and precision in every aspect.
Verstappen has the full support of Red Bull and seemingly possesses all the necessary elements to establish his own F1 legacy.
Arguably the most formidable challenge, and certainly the hardest to foresee, is endurance.
As mentioned earlier, both Verstappen and Red Bull must remain at the pinnacle of their performance for likely a decade if the 25-year-old is to become the statistically greatest driver of all time.
The two-time world champion has already hinted that his current Red Bull contract, which extends until the end of the 2028 season, could be his final one.
Verstappen acknowledged the possibility of retiring at 31 due to his interest in exploring other pursuits, such as participating in other motorsport categories like the World Endurance Championship or even the Indy 500.
Although Verstappen’s youth and a potentially expanding F1 calendar—with as many as 25 races in the foreseeable future—work in his favor, he has expressed concerns about the calendar being overly lengthy.
One certainty is that Verstappen will continue to compete in F1 as long as he finds it enjoyable. He discussed the pressure of his intense 2021 title fight with Hamilton, characterizing the neck-and-neck nature of their rivalry as “the worst kind of feeling.” He is not eager for more battles of such intensity.
Verstappen appreciated a much-needed break before clinching his second drivers’ title, but uncertainties linger. Will constant winning bore him? Will his passion persist five or six years down the line? If he finds himself within reach of making history, one would assume his hunger for success would remain strong.
Given Verstappen’s recent remarks about his future, endurance might prove to be the most significant obstacle he faces.
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