Undisputed leader of the 2023 Formula 1 season, Max Verstappen is so dominant that he may have to change his first name to Maximum!
Driving his Red Bull in the Austrian Grand Prix, the Dutchman won the main race on Sunday and the sprint event, contested the day before, each time starting from the lead position.
Verstappen also dominated every qualifying stage as well as the lone free practice session, en route to a fifth victory in a row and seventh in nine races in 2023.
In fact, Verstappen has eight victories in 11 events, if you include the two sprint races in which he shared honors with teammate Sergio Perez. So Red Bull has won everything so far.
But Perez, winner of the two regular races that Verstappen did not win, remains rather behind this season.
Verstappen crushed the competition so badly at the Spielberg circuit over the weekend that he surprised himself.
“It was a pretty amazing weekend,” said the 25-year-old driver. “Something I hadn’t anticipated.” »
Verstappen is probably alone in not having expected such a performance, as his stats are piling up just as fast as is his outstanding driving.
He now has 42 victories, one more than the great Ayrton Senna, and alone ranks fifth in Formula 1 history. His next target is Frenchman Alain Prost, four-time world champion, who ranks fourth with his 51 career triumphs.
With 13 races left on the calendar, starting with the British Grand Prix this weekend, it’s realistic to believe Verstappen could break his record of 15 wins in a single season, set in 2022, and edge out Prost at the passage.
While this scenario may seem exaggerated, the statistics show otherwise. Since finishing second at the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix, Verstappen has won 16 of the 20 races that have been contested.
If we maintain, approximately, this 80% win ratio until the end of the current season, the Dutchman would complete the calendar with 17 triumphs in 2023 and 52 in career.
With such a total, he would be just one victory short of catching Sebastian Vettel, now retired. Also, he would be about halfway behind Lewis Hamilton, leader in F1 history with 103 victories.
Hamilton scored his last triumph at the end of 2021, aged 36, so it’s hard to say for sure how many victories Verstappen will rack up if he lasts as long in F1 as the Briton.
But a third world championship title seems inevitable, given that Verstappen already holds an 81-point lead over Perez and 98 over Spaniard Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin), who failed to win in Formula 1 in 10 years.
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, who is also 25 and raced fiercely against Verstappen when they were karting juniors, described his dominance as follows.
“I’m not in Max’s race. He is in another, all alone,” illustrated Leclerc. “He’s too fast to stop him. So there’s no point in trying. »