Max Verstappen finished 2022 146 points ahead of his nearest competitor Charles Leclerc and secured the record of the most race victories in a single season.
The Dutchman continued his relentless run through F1’s record books in 2022 by adding new historic feats to the milestones he already holds as the sport’s youngest driver, winner and podium finisher.
Verstappen smashed more records in a dominant charge to his second world title last season, taking the most wins in a season with 15 out of 22 – including nine of the last 11 – to surpass the previous benchmark of 13, which was held by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.
He also scored the most points ever across an F1 season with 454, while his winning margin of 146 points to second-placed Charles Leclerc in the drivers’ championship was the second largest in history.
After his most remarkable season yet, Verstappen finds himself on track to break the all-time records for most wins and world championship titles.
Verstappen sits sixth in the all-time record books with 35 grand prix victories, though he is still some way short of Lewis Hamilton’s benchmark of 103, and is five titles shy of matching Hamilton and Schumacher’s joint-record of seven world championships.
To put that into some context, Verstappen would need 5.3 wins per year for the next 12 years, as well as six more championships, to eclipse these records.
Given his age and speed, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Verstappen could go on to become F1’s statistical GOAT in the future.
It would be unwise to rule out the prospect altogether – after all, most considered Schumacher’s achievements to be untouchable. But several key factors would need to align for it to become reality.
Arguably, the most important factor is having a competitive car. This box can be ticked immediately following Red Bull’s strong start to the new era of aerodynamic regulations.
Their excellent RB18 – which won all bar five races last season – puts the team and Verstappen in great shape for another title assault in F1 2023.
Having just turned in his most convincing and impressive F1 season to date, there can be little doubt about the state of Verstappen’s own level of performance.
Verstappen rarely makes mistakes and his raw speed and ability ensures he always finds himself in the hunt at the front of the grid. He also demonstrated a new-found maturity and calmness that was perhaps missing in previous years.
Only four drivers have won more than two consecutive titles before, which is where Verstappen’s next challenge lies.
Verstappen will need to maintain an extremely high level of consistency – for a sustained period of time – if he is to get even close to Schumacher and Hamilton’s records.
If the last two seasons are anything to go by, this is another strength Verstappen has going in his favour. A near-flawless run to successive world titles has seen Verstappen cement the sort of consistency enjoyed by the likes of Schumacher, Vettel and Hamilton in their respective spells of dominance.
Added to that, Red Bull are shrewd operators. As a team they have barely put a foot wrong over the last two years and they already boast experience of stringing together multiple world championship-winning campaigns.
The Red Bull operation was a well-oiled machine in 2022. From strategy to pit stops, the team was slick and efficient in every department.
Verstappen has Red Bull’s full backing and seemingly has everything in place to build his own F1 dynasty.
Perhaps the toughest challenge of them all, and certainly the most difficult factor to predict, is longevity.
As previously mentioned, Verstappen and Red Bull will need to remain at the top of their game for most likely a decade if the 25-year-old is to become the greatest of all time, statistically at least.
The double world champion has already hinted that his current Red Bull contract – which runs until the end of the 2028 season – could be his last.
Verstappen admitted he may retire aged 31 due to his desire to pursue other interests, including trying out other motorsport categories such as the World Endurance Championship, or even the Indy 500.
While Verstappen’s age and an ever-expanding F1 calendar – that could reach as many as 25 races in the not-too-distant future – go in his favour, he has made his feelings clear about the calendar being too long.
One thing is certain; Verstappen will only race in F1 as long as he is enjoying it. He opened up about the stresses of his epic title fight with Hamilton in 2021, describing the down-to-the-wire nature of their battle as “the worst kind of feeling”. He doesn’t fancy many more as intense as that.
Verstappen enjoyed a welcome break en route to winning his second drivers’ crown, but question marks still remain. Will he get bored of winning? Will his desire still be there in another five or six years? One would imagine the hunger for success would still be burning if he found himself within striking range of history.
Considering Verstappen’s recent comments about his future, longevity might just prove to be the biggest hurdle standing in his way.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen aiming for Formula One title hat-trick in 2023 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen aiming for Formula One title hat-trick in 2023 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen aiming for Formula One title hat-trick in 2023
|2023 F1 Car Launches|
|Red Bull||RB19||03 February|
|Alfa Romeo||C43||07 February|
|Aston Martin||AMR23||13 February|
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