ADVERTISEMENT
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 05: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates with his team in the Pitlane after the F1 Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 05, 2023 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Verstappen amid the greatest F1 season of all time

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 05: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates with his team in the Pitlane after the F1 Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 05, 2023 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Max Verstappen’s 17th win of the 2023 Formula 1 season rewrote the record book and established the triple world champion as the most dominant driver the sport has ever seen over the course of a campaign, making this the greatest season by a driver in the history of the sport.

Until Sunday’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix at Interlagos, the highest win percentage for a season was the 75% of late Italian champion Alberto Ascari who won six out of eight world championship races with Ferrari in 1952.

Verstappen’s tally so far from 20 races puts his percentage at 85%, and even if he does not win the remaining two rounds of the season in Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi, he will still finish above 77%.

ADVERTISEMENT

Not that the Dutch 26-year-old was paying too much attention to the statistics when asked how much the numbers resonated and motivated him: “It’s not about that. I mean, it’s not something that when I joined F1, I need to have a 75% win record over a season you know. These kinds of things come along when everything just works really well.

“I feel good in the car, the car is very competitive, and the team barely makes mistakes as well. So then you can get a season like we are having. For me it’s more about just enjoying the moment and trying to maximise every single opportunity,” the Red Bull ace told reporters.

Verstappen took a then-record 15 wins in 2022 but an unprecedented run of 10 successive victories from May to September and a new ongoing streak of five in a row could mean he ends this year with 19 out of 22 — an 86.3% win rate.

Norris: We’re talking about one of the best drivers in F1 ever

Formel 1: Überraschung – Fernando Alonso fährt in Brasilien aufs Podium,  Verstappen siegt erneut

Vetsyappen’s 19 podiums for the year so far are also a record, even if seasons were far shorter in the old days, as are the 524 points scored, although scoring systems have also become far more generous. He has led 922 laps, another record for a season, and counting.

The gap between him and teammate Sergio Perez, second in the standings, is 266 points — way more than the record margin of 155 points between first and runner-up set by Sebastian Vettel with the same team in 2013. That same gap is also bigger than the German’s entire points haul (256) in winning the 2010 F1 title.

Verstappen has led the championship since the Spanish Grand Prix of May 2022 and is guaranteed to end the season with a record run of 39 races in a row as leader.

He has won more times (11) from pole position in a season than any other driver, after last year setting a record for most wins in a season not from pole (nine).

Red Bull’s 19th win of the campaign equalled Mercedes’ 2016 record and broke their rivals’ record from that same season of most laps led (1,055).

“We’re talking about one of the best drivers in F1 ever, in one of the most dominating cars. One of the most dominated years in F1 history,” commented McLaren’s Lando Norris, who finished P2 on Sunday, when putting his own performance into context. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)