Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Singapore, 2022

Verstappen “on top of his game” say rivals as he closes on second title

2022 Singapore Grand Prix

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Several of Max Verstappen’s rivals have praised his performances this year as he arrives in Singapore able to clinch his second world championship with five races still to run.

With little chance Charles Leclerc or Sergio Perez will overturn Verstappen’s lead of well over 100 points, several of his rivals offered praise for the job he’s done in making the championship a foregone conclusion.

Verstappen has won the last five races in a row, though he only started one of them from pole position. Other victories came from seventh (Monza), 10th (Hungaroring) and 14th (Spa).

“It’s a very impressive season,” said Esteban Ocon. “Especially I think the way when Max was starting in the back and just flying through the field, I think this has been quite impressive in terms of just like first lap, knowing where to place the car.

Verstappen’s season has been “very impressive” -Ocon
“I think he’s been on top of his game this year. So once he wins the title, congratulations.”

The season did not begin well for Verstappen. Two retirements in the first three races left him 46 points behind Leclerc. However he quickly caught, passed and pulled away from his rival.

“What he’s done is quite impressive,” said Haas’s Mick Schumacher. “He’s had a tough start to the season but then turned it around pretty well with Red Bull and definitely it seems to have worked out for them.”

Lando Norris said Verstappen is “obviously doing an incredible job” as he is poised to clinch his second title in a row. “The team have given him a very good car in order to do so.

McLaren livery launch, Singapore, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Singapore Grand Prix build-up in pictures
“I think everyone kind of expects it as well, especially after last year, you see the battles that they had and how tough it is to produce a good car and to go out and produce these results every single weekend, especially when he starts last and still wins quite easily. It’s even good to watch when your when you’re in the car yourself. But well done to all of them.”

However Verstappen’s former team mate Alexander Albon pointed out “he would want us to wait until he wins before we comment about it.”

“But it’s obviously very impressive,” he added. “Also you have to give credit to Red Bull as well. I think they’ve been upgrading their car quite a lot through the year and they seem to have made a step. I don’t want to say they’re pulling away from the others but it seems like they’re clearly doing a very good job.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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13 comments on “Verstappen “on top of his game” say rivals as he closes on second title”

  1. Norris thinks Max is already one of the best drivers in history:

    “He’s one of the most talented drivers ever to come into Formula 1, one of the fastest. No doubt he’s going to win his second [title] this year and most likely go on to win a few more in the future.”

    For me it’s obvious he’s already the best! Max is doing what Schumacher and Hamilton have never been able to achieve, beating records in a car that’s nowhere near rocketships both of them had for several years. He’s clearly on a different level.

    Just look at his worst results and performances vs his rivals:
    -Max – 2nd RUS 21, 3rd MON 22
    -Hamilton – 7th MON 21, 15th AZE 21
    -Leclerc – 6th EMI 22, DNF FRA 22
    It’s simply incredible even if Max has average race, he still ends up on the podium, while his competitors in similar circumstances barely finish in the points or make laughable mistakes.

    1. Jim Clark at his peak was never beaten on pure pace by his rivals. Had the Lotus been 100% reliable I genuinely think he could have won every race from 1963-65 (although it was the fastest car). Also, Schumacher only really had a dominant car in 2002 and 2004, while his 2001 Ferrari was around a similar level of dominance as Red Bull in 2022. He probably didn’t have the best car in 2000, while it was very close in 1995 and 2003. (1994 should never have been his title so can be ignored). Then Fangio competed in seven full seasons and won five of them, taking second in the other two, and Alain Prost won all four of his titles with either a former champion or a future champion as his teammate, and could have won four more with slightly more luck. Max Verstappen is an outstanding driver, but I wouldn’t put him on the same level as the drivers previously mentioned.

      1. José Lopes da Silva
        30th September 2022, 22:10

        Lots of interesting takes in your comment. Let me try to develop/reply in order for you to develop.
        – I think Schumacher’s 95 season in somehow underrated. I believe Williams had the best car of the season, but the team had Senna and Prost’s number 2 driver and then Hakkinen’s number 2 driver.
        – Why do you think Schumacher should never have won the 94 title (like, do you mean Imola or Adelaide)? He won 8 of the 12 races he was in, a 66% rate.
        – Totally agree about 2001 Schumacher’s season, although I think is that Hakkinen “sink” due to reliability and whatsoever. And Coulthard, again, was a number 2.
        – But do you have doubts that Verstappen has the skills to be considered among the top 7 or 8 or the entire F1 history, in a near future? What else does he need to do?

    2. Max worst finish this year was 7th or 9th at Silverstone but that is only 1 time due debries (from memory which isn’t that great)

      What you could say that Max is very constant but compairing with the past is very difficult as it’s not compairable. Lewis had the best car for several years and had also the same numbers but the seasons now have more races which make compairing hard.

      1. Of course these 2 results shouldn’t be included, as they were caused by circumstances outside Max’s control. Unless you think Leclerc was at fault for DNFs in Spain and Baku.

        It’s subjective, but here’s percentage of maximizing results (finishing in position car deserved to be, excluding technical DNFs or being taken out by rivals like Mercedes):
        -2021 Max 94%, Hamilton 57%, Perez 5%
        -2022 Max 92%, Leclerc 43%, Perez 14%

        1. You’ll have to admit leclerc’s bad % is due to strategy as well!

    3. It’s amazing how some people can look at a set of numbers and come to wildly different conclusions than everyone else.
      Verstappen’s strong results have nothing to do with him having the fastest and most consistent car and team….?

  2. Statements like ‘the best ever’ is fantalk. You could never empirically prove it.

    Based on most stats, Lewis is the best , but it’s tough to argue he is a (much) better driver than schumi, max or Senna.
    Max is special yes. Let’s see if he keeps the machinery to break records.

    1. @trib4udi I think Verstappen’s penchant for insulting machinery when it doesn’t work as he wants/needs could in the long term be the only factor that limits his success. As we saw with Alonso’s career, you have to make sure you don’t burn bridges in this sport or hope the team you stay with stays on top.

      I tend to just ignore the best ever talk too for the same reason, it mainly just shows that F1’s most successful drivers spent the longest in competitive machinery. Of course you can argue that the best drivers find themselves in the best machinery more often too though so they are partly responsible for that success.

    2. @trib4udi Yeah – I don’t like ‘the best ever’ talk. It’s essentially meaningless, there are so many factors and each are very subjective.

      I’d rather just enjoy these moments when drivers seem to be riding the crest of a wave. Regardless of what you may think of the person, watching someone at their peak is just a sight to behold. Federer and Nadal during ‘that period’, nobody was asking ‘who is the greatest’, not many chose to be fans of either individual, just watching them both perform incredibly and upping it all the time was a joy.

      I’m too young to have seen Fangio, Jim Clark, Niki – saw a bit of Ayrton, plenty of Schumacher, Hamilton and now Max. They’re all brilliant. No Excel spreadsheet or Algorithm will ever do any of them justice. So let’s just enjoy them whilst we have them.

      1. They’re all brilliant. No Excel spreadsheet or Algorithm will ever do any of them justice. So let’s just enjoy them whilst we have them. Exactly @bernasaurus

      2. In addition to your final paragraph – I’d add that a lot of others have been equally impressive, but lacked certain external factors to convert it all into results, headlines and lore.

        Those tennis players have only themselves and their racquet to convert personal performance into results – racing drivers, however, are merely a part of a machine (literally and metaphorically speaking) and will necessarily be judged on what they drive and how well it performs independent of the driver.

  3. Now is Verstappen actually “on top of his game” or more likely enjoying the spoils of imaginative budgeting?

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