Verstappen hopes for “close battle” in 2023 after taking title with four races to go

2022 Japanese Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Newly crowned two-times Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen is hoping for a closer battle for the title in 2023.

The Red Bull driver became champion for the first time in the last race of 2021, then secured the 2022 crown with four races to spare.

Although at one point he was 46 points behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, Verstappen has out-scored his closest rivals in almost every race since. He currently leads the championship by 113 points, Sergio Perez having passed Leclerc for second place.

Verstappen joked he would need 45 races to overcome Leclerc’s lead when he was 46 points behind, and he referred back to that comment after being crowned for a second time with a dominant victory at last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix

“At the time you’re also just really upset with the situation,” he said. “But just looking at how the whole season was going in terms of how close the cars were it’s very surprising, of course, to [now] have this much of a lead.

“But when you look at what happened during the races you can understand. So I’m in a way pleased that it was like that. But in any other way you do like having a close battle. Hopefully we can have that then next year.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Verstappen will defend his second title in the longest championship ever scheduled. There are 24 grands prix, including six sprint events, on the 2023 F1 calendar.

“It’s going to be a long season,” Verstappen acknowledged. “I thought this one was already pretty long, but we’ll see.

“As a team, we’re going to try to prepare for next year as good as we can. And then we’ll try to get it as close as we can to this year, because replicating something like this will be very tough. But I have a lot of good hope within the people in the team that we can create again a really good car.”

Verstappen is already signed to Red Bull until the end of 2028. By that time F1 will have progressed to a completely new set of aerodynamic and powertrain regulations and introduced sustainable fuels, and Red Bull will be producing its own power units. He believes the team is “capable of even more great seasons” in the future.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2022 Japanese Grand Prix

Browse all 2022 Japanese Grand Prix articles

Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

75 comments on “Verstappen hopes for “close battle” in 2023 after taking title with four races to go”

  1. That’s a very nice thing of him to say.

    1. Yeah, and a comment like yours is probably the reason hes saying it. This is what se said, back before he was in the lead:

      Max Verstappen says he wants to turn Formula 1 grands prix into processions, suggesting dominating from the front is more appealing than having to fight hard for positions.

      1. Do you have a link?
        I doubt that this is a quote, as he wouldn’t talk about himself in the third person.
        So it must be an interpretation of his words rather than ‘what he said’.

        1. I think I found it already
          This is what he said after he won the Mexican GP in 2017!, commenting on the easy win:

          Yes, because this is winning – and I think this is the most beautiful way of doing it,
          Of course, overtaking is fun. But in recent years I’ve never been in a position that I could control races.
          But this is what I did in karting, actually, and in the end this is want you want to do.
          Overtaking is definitely nice, but to me it’s not something that’s necessary.
          Ultimately you want to win races like [Lewis] Hamilton and eventually win a championship.

        2. petebaldwin (@)
          12th October 2022, 16:25

          So no – he didn’t say that. After his 3rd win in his career and the first which was dominant, he was asked if he got bored and said:

          “”Yes, because this is winning – and I think this is the most beautiful way of doing it,” said Verstappen.

          “Of course, overtaking is fun. But in recent years I’ve never been in a position that I could control races. But this is what I did in karting, actually, and in the end this is what you want to do. Overtaking is definitely nice, but to me it’s not something that’s necessary. Ultimately you want to win races like Hamilton and eventually win a championship.”

          When asked how he rated the win, he said:

          “This is certainly one of my favourite ones of course, because you not only won the race, you also controlled it, without any pressure from behind. I hope that we will be in the same position next year. From the very first race.”

          1. What I wrote was the interpretation of what he said in the header of the article you are also linking to. I don’t read anywhere that he was asked that it was boring, that’s your interpretation.

            But its quite clear that, at least at that time, he preferred to win like that, and that’s also fair enough? He could have changed his mind later on. I certainly know what I as a spectator would prefer ;)

    2. Pretty much the same thing Lewis used to say and he’d get excoriated for it. But yeah, we all know why.

      1. This is true, hamilton used to say that often in the dominant years.

      2. No we don’t. Please, enlighten us.

      3. … when an apparent victimhood complex on somebody else’s behalf prevents you from reading a comment, yet you choose to reply to it anyway.

      4. ” But yeah, we all know why.”


  2. Retire from a couple of races next season and it’ll be a tighter battle.
    (/s just in case)

    1. Hé already tried that this season

  3. I remember hearing those words from Hamilton.

    At least when Schumacher felt this way, he actually did something about it and moved to a different team… The team that provides the most difficulty of all to mount a championship challenge – Ferrari.

    1. That’s one way of putting it.

      I say he took everyone, that includes himself, with him when he moved teams so he was essentially in the same team just with a much bigger budget.

      1. everyone of note*

      2. Oh yeah, for sure – but it took a while to work, didn’t it? While they were sorting it out, there were 4 other champions.
        That’s more competition, right there.

      3. That’s not really the case, though. Brawn stayed at Benetton for 1996 where he became increasingly frustrated with Berger and Alesi’s inability to make the car perform (his biography is quite an insightful read on this topic). Byrne actually retired. Both were only convinced to join Ferrari later on. Also, no changes were made to the team principal at Ferrari, who was and remained Jean Todt (up to the last 2007 WDC winning campaign), nor were any significant Renault people convinced to join Ferrari, with Paolo Martinelli – the father of Ferrari’s V10 engines if you will – remaining in his lead role.

    2. I remember when Schumacher moved to Ferrari, people were talking about the unbelievable amount that Ferrari were paying him, over $50m for the first two seasons, 1996-97. Twenty five years later and still, I think, only Lewis Hamilton manages to pull in a bigger salary. The BBS (bulletin board systems) of the day were awash with comments that he had sold out, given up on any chance of winning another championship, pretty much the same comments as people made a few years later when Hamilton moved to Mercedes. I’ve no doubt if Max moves to, say, McLaren in a couple of years time for an eye-watering sum that people will say the same about him, that he has sold out, etc, and if after several years of hard work developing the car, he wins several championships in a row, we’ll hear people saying he can only win if he is in the best car.

  4. Maybe if red bull hires ferrari’s strategist will be a close battle

    1. @Manto: Or they should stop cheating and stay within the budget cap!!!

      1. If Ferrari doesn’t even know their alphabets how they did manage to stay in budget gap as Red Bull seems to be the smart and the fast one and they seem to have gone over.. ;)

      2. Don, unless you have inside info on what the overspend is, you cannot say it is cheating. If they’d arranged for an outside contractor owned by a Red Bull subsidiary to fabricate wings for just one dollar a time, then I think we’d all agree that was cheating. If they’ve misunderstood the wording of the regulations and thought payments for staff off sick did not count towards the budget cap (which is actually a very reasonable assumption) then they might not be complying with the regulations, but it isn’t cheating. Let’s not go round labelling people cheats until we’ve heard the facts.

    2. Ahah, that’s absolutely true, that level of strategists make a huge points difference!

  5. For close title battle to happen in 2023 Ferrari or Mercedes need to produce a car that is at least 0.3s faster than Red Bull. Otherwise Max will make the difference once again, as the best driver in history he is, and blitz his way to 3rd title, rapidly closing on Hamilton’s records.

    1. Best driver in history? Better than Fangio, Senna, Prost, Lauda etc. Personally I think not.

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      12th October 2022, 14:11

      @armchairexpert yeah but he will start afresh next year with some sort of penalty. The blow of stripping Red Bull off the championships in 2021 and 2022 and the reduction in prize money as they take penalties will certainly affect the team next year.

      Giving Red Bull a meaningful penalty is next to impossible given the advantages they had over the past 2 seasons. If you take away 100 points from the team and drivers, all that does is take away the championship from last year which arguably wasn’t even theirs to begin with, cheating on and off the track included.

      If you remove 200 points, same effect. No financial penalty. They get to keep both championships this year.

      It’s only when you remove 300 points that you get a somewhat meaningful penalty.

      In 2021, Red Bull with a 300 point deduction drops from P2 to P3 – Verstappen with a 150 point drops to P2
      In 2022, Red Bull with a a 300 point deduction drops from P1 to P3 – Verstappen with a 150 point drops to P2 and is 36 points behind Leclerc.

      300 points a season and 150 points per driver yield 3 position drops in the WCC for Red Bull over 2 seasons. And some penalty would have to apply over the next season. It would probably have to be 300 points.

      Not to mention that Red Bull has destroyed 3 seasons of F1 by doing that. You do NOT win at any cost – that’s what cheaters do. They should not have crossed the line and now we all have to pay for it. We all want Red Bull to be competitive but Red Bull has to pay the piper.

      I suggested that they remove the results 5 of the team’s and drivers’ best races but again I’m afraid it may just be a 200 point deduction which as I said is meaningless. It would have to be more than that.

      1. I doubt they’re gonna lose a single point, budget cap reduction makes more sense.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          12th October 2022, 20:09

          @esploratore1 lol, yeah Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren, Haas, and Aston Martin are going to be ok with that.

          I think the FIA and the Formula One Group may find themselves with a warning from the teams this weekend which will be followed by a termination of both organizations from the sport. Which will also leave Red Bull and Alpha Tauri out of the new sport asking for an invitation that will come at a very dear price.

          1. followed by a termination of both organizations from the sport

            Your imagination must be like a fairytale universe.

      2. The factual situation is that RB has overspend according to the FIA and RB does not agree. That is all. No amounts, no conclusion to the process yet. The sensible thing is to wait and hope we get more details. Anything else is simply a witch hunt.

        1. Not really a witch hunt when they’ve been proven to break the rules. Although I agree there’s little point in hypothetical talk about what penalties might be applied until we know more. It’s worth noting that the FIA haven’t really even investigated their finance reporting, just they’ve noted the discrepancy based on Red Bull’s submisison.

        2. There is a conclusion. Only 1 team breached the financial cap and thats RBR.
          FIA are the rule makers its their interpretation of the regs thats important not RBRs.
          FIA also left a open line for any and all interpretation issues saying for any confisuiton they should be consulted. If RBR think they found a grey area FIA were actively telling teams to ask about grey areas so FIA could issue clarification to all teams with responce. The only reason RBR would go down the different interpretation route as a responce to being found in breach is if they havent seeked clarification and instead interpreted the regs for their own benefit.

          FIA gave the regs and said ask us in event of confusion which lots of teams have done and RBR are saying there were regs open to interpretation which FIA already covered off by saying RBR should have asked about these at the time then.

          RBRs argument saying their interpretation of the regs may be different from FIAs doesnt wash as every other team on the grid managed to get it right…

          If it goes to court and RBR try to highlight costs which they believe shouldnt be included FIA can simply bring up 9 other teams accounts to evidence the interpretation and fact othere have included thos costs. While teams are unique its extremely unlikey RBR have a cost which they are able to not account which another team has to.

      3. -for every 1% over the cap you lose 10% of your drivers & constructors points.
        -no pre season testing
        -reduce budget cap say by 10%
        -reduction in aero & cfd allowance by 10%
        -add weight penalty of 10-20 kg. so driver + seat have to weight 100kg instead of 80kg for other teams for the 23 season
        -give the last choice on grid slots, (similar to McLaren for the 08 season)
        -last option is DSQ from 2021 and all associated points and give reduced cap for 2022.

        Merc clearly want the 21 season Ferrari would rather have the penalties for 22 and 23. Problem is that as Toto says the advantage is already there so would need to add some sort of weight penalty to their car for 2022 to remove that advantage and to effectively remove a chance RBR could win in 2023 if you dont take 2021 from them. Otherwise whats the point in any penalty.

    3. it will be easier now for max to set records now that there are wayy more races in a season. Max sure has come a long way from where he started

    4. For close title battle to happen in 2023 Ferrari or Mercedes need to produce a car that is at least 0.3s faster than Red Bull.

      If only they could find a way to spend a few million more ;)

    5. Less…Max is great but not that great

    6. The only way he can do that is for RBR to cheat!!!
      He had a faster car or equally fast to the Mercs last year and he couldn’t win; Masi had to win it for him by making up his own rules and for RBR to cheat by overspending!!!
      Which makes him a fake or cheat champion; too bad since it’s not his fault!!!

      1. He was still the best driver of 2021, that’s undisputable, even on this website the majority voted him over hamilton, and if there’s any bias here it’s in hamilton’s favour.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          12th October 2022, 20:19

          @esploratore1 in their defense, they didn’t know that he and the team had been cheating for the whole season.

          I’m not precluding the fact that they would still vote for him but that says more about those people than Verstappen, right?

        2. Esplatore: “He was still the best driver of 2021, that’s undisputable”

          I think it is always disputable. F1 isn’t designed to be a level playing field for drivers, it is an attempt at being a level playing field for manufacturers. If LeClerc had been in the Red Bull, perhaps people would say he was “the best driver of 2021”. And what if the Red Bull was slow as a dog on high speed circuits and Max had finished way down the WDC rankings? That’s not because he’s stopped being a great driver. He can only drive the machinery he is given. Talking about the greatest driver of all time, or even the greatest driver that season is always just going to be fans throwing opinions at each other. Now people are entitled to their opinion about who they thought was the best driver, but for sure there will be just as many others who will dispute it.

        3. @esploratore1 – I’m calling Hamilton and Verstappen even for 2021, purely on where they ended up at the end of the season (final race even on points). Driver ability, skill, consistency, dealing with pressure they both did it,neither driver was perfect and both had their share of good and bad fortune, ultimately they dealt with it. How anyone can separate them to say 1 was better and deserved it more or whatever is pathetic. Chalk that up to driver fan toxicity.

          Considering the season he endured to get his 1st title in comparison to this season not surprised he wants some form of a challenge otherwise it will feel unrewarding.

    7. LOL great comedy…thank you sir!

    8. Funny Max is aparently yet to win in a car designed within the regulations. ITs difficult to argue he is the best in history when it took team orders, Race Director applying regs in a funny way and a team breaching the budget cap to beat Hamilton.

      Max doesnt even have to race his own team mate. Evidence usggests Lando is a better driver. Given that Max & Ricciardo were close at RBR yet Lando has dominated Ricciardo over last 2 years.

      What happened to Vettel and Ricciardo when they both left RBR and the Newey designed car…..

      Max is good but so far his best team mate was Daniel. No other team mates have ever been given equal status in the team with Gasly beng dropped back to Toro Rosso for suggesting they needed to change deisng direction of the car to give him a car he needs.

  6. Maybe use a car built within the cost cap rules would help

  7. I can imagine winning a tightly fought championship feels much better to win than a steamroller like this year.

    Then again, this year was probably a lot less stress compared to last year’s.

  8. Perhaps if he wasn’t in an illegal car then.

  9. Important to note that all personalities are different. Some drivers might prefer winning easily whereas others might find it quite dull.

    Max I think has indicated that he might not stick to racing in F1 for the long term. Who knows if he wins again in 23, 24, 25 etc he may decide to call it quits before the regulations change again. He does not really strike me as someone who will want or shall we say need, to win 7 titles.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      12th October 2022, 15:34

      @phil-f1-21 do you believe that Max will keep the championships from the past 2 years and have no significant penalty in 2023 that will put them Red Bull out of contention for anything other than P2 or P3?

      1. Yes i believe he’ll bem keeping the 2 Championships he won

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          12th October 2022, 16:53

          Let’s wait and see. Unless the sport changes from a competitive category to a casual friendly league where cheating over multiple seasons is allowed, I can’t see that happening.

      2. @freelittlebirds I do think Max will keep both of his WDCs so far. I think there may be some sanction for the team in the form of restrictions on testing or a lower budget cap in 2023. I cannot really see any FIA action stopping RBR at least being able mount a decent challenge for the WDC or Constructors in 2023 onwards

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          12th October 2022, 19:30

          @phil-f1-21 that will be absolutely shocking perhaps many times more so than last year’s incident at Abu Dhabi. This will define F1 and whether it’s a just a sport or a spectacle. If this is not dealt properly, I cannot imagine the consequences.

          Legally the FIA will be open to lawsuits that will cost them easily hundreds of millions of dollars especially since Brawn said “Break the budget cap, lose the championship”.

          I wouldn’t be surprised if the teams go on a strike and don’t participate in one or more races. They clearly are meaningless in terms of points.

          I also would not be surprised if all the teams go as far as to create a completely new racing category with Red Bull offered a spot on a contingency basis.

          The teams and drivers are the sport. The only major issue is the subpar governance of the sport and races.

          1. These comments seem over the top for what may be a 10k dollar excess on the budget cap.

          2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            12th October 2022, 20:39

            @esploratore1 we both know it’s not just 10k and the fact that the FIA have proof is actually unbelievable given the fact that Red Bull submitted a budget claiming they had not exceeded the budget. That means that the FIA must have found at least one source of overspending that was not disclosed by Red Bull in their budget submitted to the FIA, which then begs the question what other sources did Red Bull fail to disclose.

            After all, Red Bull are in possession of all incriminating evidence and seem to be engaging in creative accounting practices.

            I think Binotto mentioned 5 million or so which should give you an indication of the amount but it could much more substantial than that once they run a full audit of Red Bull which I guess is the next step.

          3. Assumptions assumptions. The factual situation is that RB has overspend according to the FIA and RB does not agree. That is all. No amounts, no conclusion to the process yet. The sensible thing is to wait and hope we get more details.

  10. I think the only way it can be a close championship in 2023 is if Mercedes produce a competitive car. I just don’t think Ferrari have either the drivers or the pit wall to mount a consistent challenge over a full season.

    1. Owen, are you ruling out McLaren at this stage? When we have major changes in the regs, there is always one team that leaps out to an early development lead in the first year, and then each season they get hauled back and you get some great close neck-and-neck racing, at which point the FIA says “we can’t have this” and changes the regs again. McLaren have had some lean years, but I’m hoping a 2023 reset will let them close the gap at the top too. Since McL use Mercedes engines, if Merc themselves find more engine power next year, or find a way to make the engine more drivable, that should boost McL too.

  11. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    12th October 2022, 16:06

    But not so close that it might mean not winning the WDC and WCC!

  12. Although RB showed a clear uptrend on the sesn 2nd quarter, the championship was tight until Ferrari collapsed.
    LEC error in France and VER recoveries when starting from 10th – like in Hungary – threw everything out of wack.
    Then came the Belgian and Duthc GPs when RB was a rocket.
    There would be still a fight if Ferrari hadnt almost gave up after Austria.

    1. It was tight in part because Red Bull caused Verstappen to retire from two races early on, giving Leclerc a massive lead in the championship; 46 points after just three races! That gave them a lot of room to be theoretically ‘in the fight’ while constantly losing races.

    2. Ferrari didn’t give up, they’re just not good enough for wins anymore.
      Hungary was the car’s last good showing and we all know, they wasted that too.

      Then we got both drivers starting from pole being unable to keep a Verstappen coming from way back to win in Spa and Monza.

      Even Perez who was at odds with the car seemingly is back to form and likely to beat Leclerc in the runner up race.

  13. He’s going to break the records of most wins in a season, and that’s the only thing Ferrari could have prevented by not gifting him at least 3 wins, but apart from that, Red Bull has been so much stronger than Ferrari since the break that we could easily say he was going to win no matter how perfect Ferrari was.

    They were completely outclassed.

    1. Yes, it’s very clear now which is the best car overall this year, ever since spa the balance was lost.

  14. Easily done. Have Newey change team.

    1. M, it’s possible, though I don’t think it is likely. Off the top of my head, I think Fangio is the only driver to have won world championships in three or more teams, and I think Newey is the only designer to have done that. He is in his 60s so less likely to be tempted by large amounts of money or the long-term challenge of transforming one of the mid-range teams.

  15. I love all the “maybe try not being in a cheat car!” comments from people that have clearly not read the cost cap rules or understand their implementation.

    It’s not as simple as adding up a pile of receipts, lads and ladettes.

    1. Actually it really is that simple and 9 other teams understood it well enough to submit their finances and stay within the cap throughout the long consultation period they’ve had. I suspect the problem is you think that the cap rules shouldn’t apply to your favored team. The other 8 teams fans are not so impressed right now.

      1. Lol, again, you can tell you’ve not read the rules.

    2. You are right JHG, it definitely isn’t as simple as adding up the receipts, and many small businesses fail in the first year because they haven’t understood cash flow and asset depreciation correctly. I think the F1 rules have been very badly formulated in the sense that there really should have been some system to allow monthly assessments rather than a statement 12 months after the last race. Anyone who has run a business will know that you set a budget and you keep monitoring it and adjusting to it. You don’t wait until months after the end of the financial year and say “Oh dear, we’ve spent far more than our budget allowed, that means we are bankrupt”. For sure the team themselves would have been doing this anyway, and if Red Bull had known in January 2021 that their way of counting sick pay etc wasn’t matching the FIA interpretation of costs, they could have fixed it back then and avoided all the recriminations now.

      1. There are interval reporting period provisions so they can’t blame that.

        The complexity comes in with old parts and the budgetary credit processes that come with using them. Then there’s accruals and assessing the paper cost for items/services that are either supplied or sourced for free.

        Make no mistake, all the top teams will have spent over $145m, they’ve just done a different job in presenting it as less.

        1. Max and RBR may have won on track and in the pits but lost big in the accounts dept, unfortunately, that now matters.

        2. That is a good point especialy after the statement of the FIA that the CCA is limited to reviewing the submissions of the teams and no formal investigations. It makes me wonder how RB could be so stupid to submit information that leads to being above the $145m. If they did cheat they did a very poor job in cheating.

          “The FIA would also note that with respect to this first year of the application of the Financial Regulations the intervention of the FIA Cost Cap Administration has been limited to reviewing the submissions made by the Competitors and that no full formal investigations were launched”

  16. If Red Bull can keep within the budget cap and not spend more than others then maybe it will be closer!!

Comments are closed.