Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2023

Verstappen “loved all the articles” claiming Red Bull’s rivals were getting closer

2023 Austrian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen said he enjoyed reading speculation Red Bull’s rivals had closed the gap to them prior to his dominant win in Austria today.

He scored his fifth consecutive win of the season in emphatic fashion. He had a 24-second lead over second-placed Charles Leclerc in the closing stages, which was enough for him to make a pit stop and come out still ahead of his rival and then use a fresh set of tyres to take the bonus point for fastest lap as he crossed the finishing line.

His margin of victory in Canada two weeks ago was less emphatic – he led Fernando Alonso to the chequered flag by nine-and-a-half seconds, without time to make an extra pit stop, which prompted some to claim Red Bull’s rivals had begun to erode their massive performance advantage.

When it was put to him that today’s race showed Red Bull’s nearest rivals had not closed the gap to them, Verstappen said: “Exactly. But I loved all the articles about it.”

Race start, Red Bull Ring, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Austrian Grand Prix in pictures
“Some weekends work a bit better for you and some don’t,” he explained. “For me, Montreal wasn’t that fantastic in the race from our side. Here I think we did a really good job and naturally the gap is a bit bigger.”

Red Bull were confident enough in their pace not to take advantage of an early Virtual Safety Car period to make a pit stop, as their pursuers did. Verstappen said he never doubted that was the right call, despite falling briefly behind the Ferraris after he came in later in the race.

That cost Verstappen the lead of a race for the first time since the Miami Grand Prix two months ago. Verstappen’s run of 248 consecutive laps at the front ended when he made his first pit stop on lap 24, handing the lead of the race to Leclerc.

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The two Ferrari drivers, who were running behind Verstappen, pitted under the Virtual Safety Car period early in the race. Despite not taking advantage of pitting under the reduced speeds, and falling behind both Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr when he pitted later, Verstappen said he always had confidence he would end up ahead of the Ferraris.

Race start, Red Bull Ring, 2023
Poll: Rate the Race – 2023 Austrian Grand Prix
“I could see already the few laps before the Virtual Safety Car came out, we were pulling out quite a gap so I knew that I would get them back eventually,” he said. “I think just following our own plan at the time was the best way forward.”

Verstappen came under attack from Leclerc throughout the first half of the opening lap but managed to remain ahead. Despite falling behind Leclerc after his first pit stop, Ferrari did not look like a serious threat to Verstappen’s win over the course of the race.

“I think most important for me was on lap one to stay in front,” said Verstappen. “After that we could do our own race.

“Of course, we opted not to box during the Virtual Safety Car and just follow our normal strategy and I think that worked out really well because the tyre life was not that high around here, and I think our stints were perfect.”

Despite taking his seventh win of the season and his fifth consecutive victory to hold a commanding 81 point lead in the drivers’ championship over team mate Sergio Perez, Verstappen says he is not concerning himself with thinking about the championship picture just yet.

“I’m just enjoying the moment, driving with this car, working with the team,” he said.

“I think the whole weekend we have done a really good job. A sprint weekend is always very, very hectic and a lot of things can go wrong and luckily a lot of things went right for us this weekend. So I’m just very happy with this weekend and we’ll focus again on Silverstone.”

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2023 Austrian Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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19 comments on “Verstappen “loved all the articles” claiming Red Bull’s rivals were getting closer”

  1. Just such a magnanimous fellow.

    1. Easy to have a different viewpoint when yer runnin’ (a distant) 7th, huh.

    2. Is it any worse than pretending Ferrari are really close when they’re clearly not?

      He’s just laughing at the media who try to create stories to sell ads. No-one with a base level of understanding of F1 genuinely thought the rest were suddenly closer just because 1 race suggested that might be the case.

    3. He’s getting more unlikeable every day

  2. How much is F1 paying for these articles to be written? VER stopped to changed tires, signed a couple of autographs, chugged a Red Bull, and still beat the 2nd place car by a very comfortable margin. But we’ll see a bunch of articles stating how Ferrari, A-M, McLaren, and Mercedes are just 1 design iteration away from competing.

    1. The issue is that it has sometimes been quite close… in qualifying.

      But Red Bull has such superior race pace, not least because they seem to have very little tyre wear, that the rest is being made to look silly by Verstappen just basically making an extra stop for the fun of it so he can claim the FL in style.

    2. You are right, it’s almost like seven year of Mercedes/Hamilton dominance.

  3. I don’t like this comment, it’s like he’s happy the others aren’t closing in, not a good look for one who likes competition.

    1. Yellow Baron
      3rd July 2023, 4:45

      I’m not sure I understand what he means by this. Initially I thought he meant that he was scoffing at the fact they think the others are closing in when they aren’t. But then I thought he perhaps meant that he was happy to hear there will be more competition. Now I have no idea lol

      1. I think he meant that they have weekends where they’re not so strong, for example in Canada. But, when they’re running at their peak, there’s no touching them. For him to say that they’re still winning on off weekends is pretty much negating any press comments that competition is catching up. Seems pretty straightforward and true.

    2. I read it as he was making fun not about the competition, but the articles that are written after a team is in one weekend closer than others. On some circuits Mercedes will be close, others Ferrari, and likely Aston can be close again as they were a couple of races ago. It would be better the look at improvements over a few races before concluding “team xxx closed the gap”. But that is not how “news” cycles work anymore.

    3. Think he’s mostly making fun of the media here, creating tension and news where there isn’t any.

  4. Reading between the lines, that suggests that there’s way more in the RBR that’s they’re showing. A bit like Mercedes had in 2014/15.

    Hopefully there won’t be any stupidity from FIA/Liberty trying to artificially create some competition.

    8 teams (I’ll give Aston Martin a pass because they at least made a major jump) should be ashamed of themselves.

    1. @dbradock

      8 teams (I’ll give Aston Martin a pass because they at least made a major jump) should be ashamed of themselves.

      You can’t blame some of the back marker teams, as teams like Williams have made a step up.

      The teams that do deserve a slap across the face are Mercedes, Ferrari and Mclaren, for just bombing consistently. Mercedes for sticking with a flawed concept for far too long… long enough to make sure they’re not competitive before 2025. Ferrari, for wasting numerous seasons to prep for 2022, just to make a pretty mediocre car which is made more mediocre by poor strategy and poor driver management. Mclaren, for not even being a serious contender in the midfield fight anymore.

      I’ve already gotten bored of this F1 season.. as the best driver on the grid is in a dominant car, with no other competitor making in roads to cut the deficit, and the only competition Max has is a sub standard Perez in that other seat.

      At least when Mercedes was dominating, it was fun to see the battles between Rosberg and Lewis. 2014 went down to the last race of the season, 2015 had some spicy battles between them. 2016 was an epic battle between teammates, which went down to the wire. In 2017, we had some sort of fight from Ferrari in the first half of the season, and similarly in 2018, so the seasons weren’t boring from race 1 onwards. 2022 and 2023 are just bore fests though. And as you rightly mentioned, the competition should be blamed more than Red Bull for putting such an uninspiring number 2 driver in that seat.

  5. Hopefully there won’t be any stupidity from FIA/Liberty

    Had you previously considered a career as a stand-up comedian?

  6. Verstappen: I talk on the track.

    1. Only when he’s in the best car

    2. 4LegitTitlesSebastianVettel
      4th July 2023, 20:14

      last I checked he was talking on the walls when he didn’t have a 1 second a lap faster car and a mediocre teammate. Beaten by Riccardo LOL

  7. 4LegitTitlesSebastianVettel
    4th July 2023, 20:13

    I engjoyed watching max get beaten year after year by hamilton in Mercedes. I will enjoy watching max getting beat again year after year in 2026. He will never get the best stats and he knows it that is why he is throwing these digs to feel better about his lesser success LOL

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