Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2023

Verstappen’s season was the most successful ever – but was it the most impressive?

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Whatever way you look at it, Max Verstappen and Red Bull achieved success on an unparalleled scale in 2023, surpassing even their lofty accomplishments from a year ago.

New records for the most victories by any driver and team over a single season, the highest win percentage for any team and driver, the longest winning streak of all time, the most laps led by a team or driver – the list is truly remarkable.

But is Max Verstappen’s championship winning performance in 2023 the most impressive campaign ever? RaceFans’ writers have their say…

Verstappen’s victories stand on their own

Is there a more impossible sport to compare competitors across different eras than Formula 1?

Mansell enjoyed a much bigger car advantage in 1992
Just try counting the material differences between this most recent season of F1 racing and those held in the fifties, seventies or even early 2000s and you might as well be comparing different sports.

Whether it’s Alberto Ascari’s 1952 campaign, Nigel Mansell’s title winning year of 1992 or even Sebastian Vettel’s domination of 2013, all were achieved in completely different environments under vastly different circumstances.

Unlike McLaren’s unstoppable 1988 season, Max Verstappen barely faced competition from his team mate – unlike Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost pushing each other each grand prix weekend. Mansell was easily taking poles by full seconds in 1992 with the FW14B, not tenths like Verstappen was with the RB19 against a far more competitive field. And while Michael Schumacher’s domination of the early 2000s was achieved at the height of Ferrari’s financial, technical and political powers, Verstappen and Red Bull have wiped the floor with the competition in a budget cap era with no testing and limits on their aero development time.

But any driver can only race the competition that lines up alongside them on the grid. While we will never know if Schumacher, Senna or even Hamilton would have won as frequently as Verstappen did had they faced the 2023 grid with the RB19 at their disposal, agonising over hypotheticals feels like it takes away from the driver who actually drove the car to such unprecedented success.

So no – Verstappen’s 2023 triumph is no more or less impressive than those most outstanding championship seasons before him. It should be celebrated for the incredible achievement it is on its own merits. And it will be celebrated for many, many years to come.

Will Wood

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Memorable achievement, not a memorable season

Thanks to the nature of how it was decided, Max Verstappen had a tough time convincing some people he was a worthy world champion in 2021, despite giving a seven-time world champion a run for his money. Since that contentious moment in Abu Dhabi, he has silenced his critics and has gone on to dominate the sport over the following two years – with very few able to challenge him for wins and pole positions.

Verstappen was at his most tenacious whenever out of the lead
Thanks to last year’s form, it was clear he was a front-runner to win the championship but the question was, by how much? And who would be there to push him into making mistakes?

The answers to that was ‘a lot’ and ‘no one’. No driver seemed to be able to match Verstappen, not even his team mate Sergio Perez in the same machinery. He was in a league of his own, with confidence brimming and he had no interest in slowing down.

But what he achieved should not be sniffed at, no matter how relaxed he seems any given weekend. You just need to listen across to his team radio for 10 minutes when he was not leading a race to see how much it means to him. It takes an awful lot of energy and dedication to be so relentless on track each weekend, yet it can’t be ignored that there was no clear opponent fit to challenge him this season.

That alone has left us hungry for more action, and a desire to see Verstappen go wheel-to-wheel for the wins and see if he can handle the pressure. The most memorable and impressive seasons are more often the closer fights. When the twists and turns leave you on the edge of your seat and the championship goes down to the final race of the season. It’s far harder to get excited about the same driver winning for 20-odd races, but it doesn’t make it any less impressive, he still beat 19 of the best drivers in the world to get there.

No matter the circumstances, it’s always impressive to win a world championship title. It’s just some are more memorable than others.

Claire Cottingham

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Less impressive than Loeb?

I think the key point about being impressive is actively setting an impression. Even when success becomes predictable, as is the case with Verstappen’s 2023 season, to do things that still make the performances stand out and to also change minds is important. And to make people who wouldn’t usually notice become alert to what you’re doing.

Loeb’s 2008 WRC campaign was especially impressive
That was absolutely the case with Sebastien Loeb in 2008 as the 34-year-old romped to a record-breaking fifth World Rally Championship title. Loeb won 11 rallies (four on asphalt and seven on gravel) and finished third in two others, and with two non-scores it meant he ‘only’ became champion by 19 points, equivalent to almost two wins’ worth of points. He could have missed the last two rounds and still been crowned.

This was Loeb at his most dominant yet also at his most challenged as his Citroen team fought hard against Ford. At that point he had delivered 47 of Citroen’s last 50 wins, much like Verstappen has taken 45 of the last 50 for Red Bull in F1.

Only 22 drivers in the WRC’s 51-year history have won 10 or more rallies, and Loeb is alone in reaching double figures in a single season. So impressive was that 2008 campaign that motorsport fanatics were clamouring to find out what Loeb could do in other machinery and against other opposition. If he could take on even bigger challenges and tougher opposition, then he could firmly be positioned above F1’s stars in the argument of who was the best driver in the world.

Loeb himself thought he was capable of taking on that F1 comparison in their own world, and Red Bull ran him in several tests that year. The team may not have been the dominant force of the time, but it certainly was proving its scouting credentials for finding drivers to put in F1 seats and Loeb was a massively exciting possibility.

The lack of a superlicence denied Loeb a 2009 debut at single-seaters’ top level, and he was also seeking a seat in 2010. He ended up never racing in F1, but later in life did diversify into more circuit racing (having already finished second in the 2006 Le Mans 24 Hours) and rallycross at the top level and won in both, and there’s something about that 2008 WRC season that was so impressive that it set the industry’s imagination alight at him sweeping the opposition in something other than rally cars.

Ida Wood

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Examples of true excellence

No doubt Verstappen’s annihilation of the competition was tedious to watch at times. But it was studded with moments of brilliance that left you in no doubt this was more than just a driver who had the benefit of a vastly superior car and, much of the time, a team mate who couldn’t wring the best out of it.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Monaco, 2023
Wall-riding Monaco pole lap will linger in the memory
Verstappen is the ultimate competitor, always switched on to any opportunity to gain an advantage. After being compromised in qualifying at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, and only able to salvage second behind his team mate on race day, Verstappen made sure he took the bonus point for fastest lap on the final tour which ensured he kept the lead in the championship.

His cruise to victory in Miami must have been utterly spirit-crushing for his team mate. Sergio Perez had the benefit of starting from pole position, yet Verstappen never fell more than 6.4 seconds behind him early in the race, and as the afternoon unfolded his was clearly much the quicker of the two RB19s. It’s rare you can say a driver won as they pleased from ninth on the grid.

Next time out at Monaco his final lap in Q3 was one to savour. Aston Martin were at their early season peak, Fernando Alonso was a genuine threat for pole position, and from there in Monaco anything is possible. But Verstappen put it all on the line with a barrier-brushing, wall-clouting sprint through the final sector to claim the precious first place by eight hundredths of a second. On race day, Verstappen kept his cool when the rain fell and avoid any significant errors on his worn tyres as their temperatures plunged.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2023
Stats: Verstappen could have missed the last 10 races and still won the title
On rare occasions, Red Bull’s rivals made him work for a win, and then he was invariably up for the challenge. Carlos Sainz Jnr put up a strong fight at Monza, and even when the Ferrari driver put one over Verstappen in Singapore, there was much about that drive which stood out. On the only weekend where an RB19 was not the thing to have, Verstappen showed decent pace in the race, and had the Safety Car not gone against him he could have been in the hunt for a podium finish or better there.

As the Formula 1 calendar has become an exercise in quantity-over-quality, with sprint events bumping the total number of races up to 28 this year, the 2023 season dissolved into a seemingly eternal race with Verstappen at the head of it and the rest fighting among themselves. But though the weakness of the competition often left few opportunities to get a clear sight of the level Verstappen was operating at, it was undeniably a high one, and that will stand him in good stead if he faces a tougher fight next year.

Hopefully that materialises. We seldom saw Verstappen go wheel-to-wheel with another driver this year, and when he did his opponent often had no reason to put up a fight, knowing the Red Bull was usually far too quick to beat. Race-craft has always been a great strength of Verstappen’s, yet in his most successful season of all we seldom got the chance to witness it. He may not have won quite as many races in 2022, but it was easier to be impressed by the quality of job he was doing.

Keith Collantine

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Over to you

Do you agree or disagree with our writers? Do Red Bull deserve more credit for their achievements? Have your say in the comments.

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Author information

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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73 comments on “Verstappen’s season was the most successful ever – but was it the most impressive?”

  1. It’s far from being the most impressive.
    He really didn’t need to push himself to the limit in any of the races. The last time he was really made to push himself, he was error-prone in attacking, extremely over-aggressive and sloppy in defending, and often dirty. We’re yet to see if he has grown in that respect. The fact that this season didn’t test any of those aspects in him, is the reason why we can’t consider this season to be “the most impressive”.

    Vettel took 9 wins on the trot, and then got trounced by Ricciardo the very next year, in the same team and never came anywhere close to looking that impressive. His championship campaigns with Ferrari, where he pretty much threw them away himself served as a good justification for the people who were refusing to rate his seasons with Red Bull as “impressive”, since there were always doubts and signs of his shortcomings. It’s just that the car gave him quite a margin to not be pressured that hard.

    Taking all of the above into consideration, there are many much more impressive seasons. None of them by either Verstappen or Vettel.

    1. His championship campaigns with Ferrari, where he pretty much threw them away himself

      He won fourteen races while his fellow champion teammate won … one.

      Ferrari was in the 2017 campaign because Hamilton and Mercedes had a scruffy (first half of the) season. Ferrari only really excelled at the short and twisty tracks; Monaco, Hungary and Singapore.

      In 2018, Vettel led the championship for a long time and had some excellent races (his handling of the tyres in Bahrain was every bit as good as his best races for Red Bull – perhaps aside from Singapore 2013) but Ferrari went completely astray with their updates midway through the season; reminiscent of the 2008 campaign that cost Kubica and BMW their only chance at a title. Ferrari also badly mismanaged Räikkönen, leading him to interfere in multiple races, then effectively dumped him before the season was over. And to make matters worse Vettel got incredibly unlucky in some minor tangles. Some of which he was to blame for, others less so. Either way, they cost him a lot of points. Despite these setbacks, he still finished with strong second places in the final races. But it wasn’t enough.

      Would Schumacher have won the title in 2018? Maybe. But there isn’t really anyone else for whom that’s a definite yes.

      It was thanks to Vettel that 2017 and 2018 were even remotely interesting. So while it ultimately didn’t work out for him, nobody else stepped up to the plate either.

      1. I agree on 2017, but in 2018 the Ferrari and Mercedes were pretty much equal cars and while Hamilton put in his greatest season, Vettel lost so many points through silly errors (lockup in Baku, hitting Bottas in France, crashing out of the lead in Germany, spinning in Italy, spinning in Japan, spinning in USA). Had Hamilton been in the Ferrari and Vettel been in the Mercedes in 2018, I feel confident that Hamilton would have been champion. But Vettel did do very well in 2017, beating Raikkonen far more comprehensively than Hamilton beat Bottas, and that year I think he did lose mainly due to bad luck with reliability, although the Singapore blunder also can’t be ignored.

        1. I doubt what you’re saying about switching the drivers in 2018. Maybe Vettel was way more on the edge of the edgy car than Lewis in an on-rails-car. The spins might be a Seb thing, but just as much might be a drivability issue with the Ferrari PU and the set-up of the car.
          The aquaplaning is always a risk for the first driver on a lap, because standing water is difficult to judge, and the second car on track can see where the first car was in trouble.
          The main reason why I believe Max’s year was extra: quite a few sessions were in tricky weather conditions, and then he did shine most.
          I don’t like people writing of Lewis for the lack of results on some races this year for the same reasons.

          1. You can look at raikkonen vs bottas too: the cars were evenly matched in 2018, they weren’t in 2017.

      2. I also disagree about 2018: it was vettel throwing away that title with his spins and that is probably what pressured ferrari to go for risky updates when they suddenly lost competitiveness after monza, then they reverted and went back to performing, to the point raikkonen won a race on merit, while vettel was busy spinning again.

  2. I’m far more impressed by a driver doing a great job racing with others in close fights than I am about watching a driver with an underperforming team-mate, in what’s obviously the best car, doing pressure-free, pace-managed time trials at the front.

    Obviously huge credit for the relentless, season-long performance, but it wasn’t even Verstappen’s most impressive season, let alone the best ever.

    1. Yes, it was close to his best season I think, he just didn’t get to show much cause he had no challenge, I’m more impressed by 2021 and early 2022, in 2021 he beat hamilton (taking into account the bad luck he had the rest of the year, if you right all wrongs verstappen wins with 30 points gap, including abu dhabi with masi’s mistake) despite hamilton having a slightly stronger car, and in early 2022 ferrari was up there and he was driving very well, going for safe 2nd places when he saw the win was not possible and winning when it was possible, and if you cut the season short just before ferrari lost competitiveness, I remember saying verstappen was the one who drove best till then, in terms of maximising points.

      1. I have seen some false justification for 2021

        But this just takes the absolute cake?

        Are you serious?

        He had absolutely no right that year not least his behaviour in the last four races

        They went into the final equal – he was comprehensively beaten until someone came up with a completely falsified set of rules!

        2021 – frankly given years as a racer – I would have followed him home and accepted I had been beaten that year..

        Rather than accept a completely fixed championship.

  3. It’s the “rocket ship with number 2 driver effect.” It’s easy dominate absolutely when you simply have zero competition. Remember how invincible Sebastian Vettel appeared until he was paired with Daniel Ricciardo in difficult to handle car? We will never know how much Max truly handles having another number 1 level driver as his teammate and fighting for victories. We saw a few cracks in his armour in 2021, unfortunately the way things are going for this regulation era we might never see Max have to really fight for anything until 2027.

    1. Damn, that’s really pessimistic, hopefully he gets serious competition way earlier.

    2. I’d even like the fia to intervene if red bull looks too dominant again next year or 2.

  4. Most impressive season ever? Jim Clark 1965. Won his 1st 6 F1 races of the season (and the title), missing Monaco to go win the Indy 500.

    1. Absolutely

      Then check out the 90 races he did that year in other championships – that has to be the most amazing season of all time.

  5. Max Verstappen won 19 out of 22 races in a season, breaking the record for most wins in a season, most consecutive wins, closest to maximum points (ignoring dropped scores), most laps led. It is probably the most dominant season ever for one driver. Of the three he didn’t win, Jeddah was due to a car problem in qualifying, Baku was an unlucky safety car (although Perez could have beaten him anyway), and in Singapore the car was uncompetitive and the safety car came at a bad time.

    The Red Bull also hasn’t been as dominant as other best cars in the past. It has been the best at every race bar Singapore, and has been pretty much 100% reliable (bar Jeddah qualifying), but it hasn’t had the one second gaps of the Mercedes in the Hamilton-Rosberg era. Effectively, Verstappen has had a few tenths advantage over the rest every time, but his remarkable consistency means he has never put in an off-day to the extent that one of the teams not far behind could have beaten him. The most comparable season in the past would be Alberto Ascari in 1952, but Verstappen has done it in a season over three times as long. There is certainly an argument for it being the greatest season performance of all time. I would suggest that Max Verstappen is now more consistent than any of the other greats of history, and his racecraft is also outstanding, he never seems to lose out in these situations. He was helped by DRS making overtaking easier, but it was mainly Verstappen’s brilliance that meant he was almost never beaten this season despite Perez finishing in the top two just six times.

    However, personally, I would argue against it being the greatest ever for one reason. I don’t think we saw Verstappen pushed to his very best. It is hard to pick out any particularly outstanding Verstappen drives in 2023 (maybe Monaco was quite special). Because he just had an advantage over the rest and consolidated it by being so consistently perfect, but never anything special. He was helped by Sergio Perez underperforming. I think the only other season in recent times that would be among the greatest ever would be Lewis Hamilton in 2018, and while he had some bad races like China where Bottas was better all weekend, he also had other races like Monza where he had to put in a truly special performance to win, and ultimately destroyed four-time champion Sebastian Vettel that year despite having practically equal cars. I think Verstappen’s season was a bit better than Hamilton’s in 2018, but a race like Monza, or a qualifying lap like Singapore was what it was missing.

    So, personally, I am going to make an argument for Jim Clark in 1965 as the greatest season performance in history. He won six races out of ten that year, but of the other four, he missed Monaco because he was racing in the Indy 500, and retired in Monza, Watkins Glen and Mexico City, all while battling for the lead so he may have won all three had he not retired, although it is not totally assured. But I think the remarkable thing about Clark’s 1965 season was the fact that, unlike in 1963, his Lotus wasn’t really any better than the BRM driven by Graham Hill, probably the second-best driver at the time although some would make a case for John Surtees or Dan Gurney, and Jackie Stewart, a rookie but destined to become the best driver after Clark’s death in 1968. And of his six wins, East London, the Nurburgring and Zandvoort weren’t by huge margins but were fairly comfortable, and the other three were all special performances. In Clermont-Ferrand he had to drive an older car and engine than everyone else and still won by a comfortable margin. In Spa-Francorchamps, it was in very wet conditions and he and Jackie Stewart lapped the rest of the field, Clark eventually leaving Stewart behind. Silverstone was his most special performance, dominating the first stint and then having to turn the engine off in the corners in the closing laps to prevent oil-surge damage while Hill hunted him down. I think this was the greatest Formula 1 season performance in history, and that was before you even mention that he also won the Indy 500, the Tasman series and F2. Although the one black mark on the season was crashing out of the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch.

    1. @f1frog Just curious, how do you know so much about the 1965 season?

      1. @freelittlebirds – Maybe like me he watched and enjoyed that season. For me was Zandvoort and Spa were epic (for me as i was a young lad …)

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          1st December 2023, 19:12

          @macleod i see – you are a lucky man to have been there!

      2. Unfortunately I didn’t get to watch that season, but F1 history has always been a favourite interest of mine, particularly the 1950s and 1960s, so I have just learnt a lot about those years from reading books and race reports. I would recommend the motorsport magazine archives as a good source, and Denis Jenkinson’s race reports written at the time.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          1st December 2023, 19:15

          @f1frog well, you could have fooled me. I wasn’t even born in 65 and when I started watching in the late 70s the quality was admittedly terrible on those small black-and-white TVs. I started following again after high definition and surround sound brought the races to life in my living room.

        2. Would be nice if there were more races around from those years, while there’s something on youtube I think it’s really hard to find complete stuff before the 80s.

    2. No doubt JC’s 1965 was an excellent season, but an argument can be made for Jochen Rindt’s 1970 season. Not just because f1metrics marks it as best ever. Jochen did not have the best car (and a very fragile one on top of that) and however managed to win all the five races he was able to finish. However it can be said that his 4 mechanical DNFs were somehow convenient, in races he was not going to win anyway.

      I’ll repeat a noteworthy fact I mentioned in a recent post: Nobody ever won a race while being Jochen’s teammate. While this is certainly not unique (well, nobody has won a race while being Latifi’s partner, e,g.) it is quite unusual for a WDC who has won a substantial number of races, from the top of my head I cannot find another case, please let me know if there is one.

      1. It is interesting to read your perspective, melanos, as usual (or at least when you are not talking about Lewis Hamilton). However, I personally would not consider Jochen Rindt’s 1970 season among the greatest in history, as fine a campaign as it was.

        You mentioned that he won the five races he finished but wasn’t in position to win the other four, but also many of those wins were somewhat fortuitous. His famous win in Monaco was after a brilliant final lap but still required Jack Brabham to go off to win it. In Brands Hatch, Brabham ran out of fuel on the final lap to allow Rindt another win. (Rindt was then disqualified for having an illegal rear wing that was later overturned, perhaps after the Lotus mechanics had celebrated their win by jumping on the car and knocking it down to a legal height). There was another race, I can’t remember which, where Ickx and Beltoise left the rest standing but both had problems so Rindt inherited the win. Hockenheim was entirely on merit, after a good battle with Jacky Ickx, and I’m afraid I don’t remember the fifth race. Jim Clark in 1965, on the other hand, inherited none of his wins, and might have won the other three anyway with perfect reliability.

        You also mentioned that the Lotus wasn’t the best car, which is true. However, he only drove the old Lotus 49D at Monaco, which is why it is his finest drive. The Lotus 72 wasn’t as perfect as the version driven by Emerson Fittipaldi in 1972 but it was still decent, if not quite as fast as the (unreliable) Ferrari or Brabham, perhaps. Fittipaldi also won with it at Watkins Glen in his rookie season, although that too was quite a fortunate win. Personally, I consider Jochen Rindt to be like the Leclerc to Jackie Stewart’s Verstappen. Probably as fast over one lap, but nowhere near as complete over a season. Maybe he would have developed and become as good as Stewart had he survived, but I believe he had promised his wife that he would retire after becoming champion. Whether he actually would or not is another question.

        And your stat is interesting, although I don’t think it is quite right as John Surtees won the 1966 Mexican Grand Prix with Cooper-Maserati as Jochen Rindt’s teammate. But he still comes close. Graham Hill also won for Lotus in Monaco 1969, but Rindt was absent from that particular race due to injuries from his crash in Montjuic when Lotus used wings on the cars which failed. Jim Clark comes close, his only teammate win being Innes Ireland at Watkins Glen in 1961, although Stirling Moss also won in a privateer Lotus in 1960 and 1961. But I believe the only world champion whose teammates never won a race was James Hunt.

    3. It depends on if you only look at the F1 races – when you look at the statistics of someone in 90 races in a season and a stunning win percentage such as Clark – particularly in the 64-65 seasons (there is plenty available on line on this – I was lucky and you enough to see Brands) then you understand utter and total dominance. If you only look at the few F1 races you do not get any perspective. They were a minor part of the seasons funds. His Indy 500 race paid for an entire year of Lotus racing! No wonder he went there instead.

  6. 2021 was far more impressive. The sheer pressure of going up against a 7-time WDC, in an inferior car, getting taken out by said rival and by his teammate (the latter unintentional), constant pressure from the media, and still winning despite all that.

    1. No it wasn’t . Max tried his best in the last few rounds of 2021 throw that WDC

      1. I’d dispute that. Max’s performance in 2021 was quite impressive, not quite enough to win, but very impressive.
        Obviously, the modification of rules by Masi during the final race wrecked the result.
        Nevertheless, very impressive and a worthy second place.

        1. It’s funny…. Lewis cheated the rules in Bahrain, took the win, he blew Baku, while the race was stopped outside the regulations and was caught 34 points behind come Silverstone 2. ‘we only need a DNF Toto told the media, and his drivers crashed out Verstappen in Silverstone, Verstappen and Perez in Hungary. Not only did Lewis take the points, but RBR was slapped with gridpenalties cause both engines where wrecked.

          Verstappen finished three less races (in undamaged cars) finished P1 and 2 in every single one, but the guy doing three more finishes adding a P3, 4, 5, 7 and 15, was worht the righful winner cause Mercedes didn’t dare to pit him and he was caught out in turn 5?

      2. In the last few rounds mercedes was simply by far the best car, if anything verstappen didn’t give up, as shown by his aggressive defense.

    2. “in an inferior car”

      Redbull rekon their car was the strongest in 2021, if you have more data available to you than the team itself, let us know.

      1. I simply disagree with red bull, in the last 4 races the mercedes advantage was very evident, red bull never had anything of the likes.

      2. There was an analysis on here showing the Merc was faster overall but not by much. We are talking hundredths of a second.
        Max showed his consistency in ’21 too. It was only a massive amount of points lost which were out of his hands that gave Lewis a glimpse of the title. That included being taken out by his rival team twice while Lewis scored free points.

    3. the divebomber and intentional crasher got taken out? delusional

      1. Did got taken out and beyond the ridiculous sporting penalty the perpetrator was served, a few decades in jail would have been a much more appropriate sentence for the murderous attempt.

  7. Everybody talks about Verstappen not being pushed, and that is actually the most impressive thing of all. Being so incredibly good that you are untouchable. Getting it right almost every time you get in the car. And when you didn’t get it right being able to adapt so it is right anyways.
    We have witnessed an absolute masterclass of racing, a masterclass from a driver that has made almost every race look effortless. All the hard work, training the countless hours in the simulators at the factory and at home, pure dedication of an athlete to his craft.
    It has been awe-inspiring, and I can’t imagine how helpless and hopeless his competitors must have felt very single time they have faced Max, even when Max was defeated in qualification.

    It’s such greatness that will be legendary.

    1. Exactly. Perfection that looks so effortless. 2021 was maybe more impressive in terms of tension for the championship that he ultimately and rightfully won, but this year his racecraft was so much better, it looked all so effortless, pure perfection. For me, following F1 sinds the early 70’s, the most impressive season ever.

  8. I think your view of MV’s season will reflect your view of Perez as a driver. If Sergio is a competant talented driver, then his performance with the RB19 shows just how good Verstappen was this year, winning more than 2x the points of his team mate. If you think that Sergio is a below par driver mentally destroyed by his team mate, you will think that Max simply enjoyed the benefit of being in one the best F1 cars ever developed. F1 in 2023 is such a different game compared to previous decades, having to manage tyres, engine and gearbox allocations etc that I’m not sure GoaT comparisons with Clark, Fangio etc can be meaningful. But greatest of the current era? Yes, I think this was. A combination of great car and a driver with a such a will to win that the car’s lack of qualifying pace (distinct from race pace) really only bit in Singapore. The very close fight for second between Mercedes and Ferrari, and to a degree Aston in the first and McLaren in the second half of the season, all with great drivers, shows the MV/RB19 combo was awesome in its domination.

  9. It’s a real shame Checo couldn’t be involved in a championship fight. It would have interesting to have a Turkey 2010 or Multi 21 incident.

    Red Bull is just playing it too safe and Jos needs to relax and let his son prove himself on track. The kid’s a mental wreck under pressure. It’s okay to be overtaken and to occasionally lose. It’s about how you fight back and how you recover.

    I can see where Jos’ insecurities come from but he needs to let his son walk his own path and be his own man. It’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them.

    1. The kid’s a mental wreck under pressure.

      Why bringing up Lewis in this topic?
      It’s all about the most dominant wdc ever in F1.

      1. You call kid that antediluvian sorry excuse for a driver LOL

      2. Good catch.

    2. What is this nonsense? Can you give serious examples from any of the last seasons that even remotely support your statements?

  10. Verstappen with a car with minimal pace pace advantage comfortably dropped 20s on everyone at Mexico 2017.

    They gave him a car with that and more in 2023 and the results are as expected.

    He had the better peaks in 2021 as well while his rival endured mistake after mistake and required substantial luck and in the end a car that could lap 3 to 4 tenths to even fight for the title.

    Verstappen is the most consistent driver by far in F1 over the last 25 years. People saying he wasn’t pushed only need to go back and rewatch races post Monaco 2018. He really made a top driver back then like Ricciardo look 2nd tier and from 2019 onwards has been a consistent machine. 2021 is testament to his consistency when pushed — all p1 or p2 when he finished unless he had car damage. Even races like zandvoort where Hamilton and Mercedes were breathing on his neck the whole race where one mistake could have cost him a won or Austin which was a masterclass.

    The last 4 races certainly seem to be the only thing people recall while ignoring Mercedes’ new found advantage. His 2021 was just as good as 2023. His 2022 was a “weak” campaign compared to these two.

    1. I remember mexico 2017 indeed, it was a race where I thought red bull, ferrari and merc were evenly matched, HOWEVER hamilton and vettel had a crash and had to recover from the back, so getting a massive gap on bottas and raikkonen is not as impressive as the other 2 drivers.

      Even so I think he’d have been hard to beat for anyone in races like that.

    2. And yes, I also remember zandvoort as a really hard earned win in 2021, which I thought many people underestimated, but merc looked like the quicker car there.

      1. Valid comment on both points.

        Merc had the car in Zandvoort but didn’t have the pace to pass the RB. Their strategy was also a bit of a let down.

        I think he’s certainly almost unbeatable when it comes to consistent performance.

        He hasn’t just done a season like this out of the blue and thats the point I wanted to emphasize.

        While others faltered, he didn’t at least on Sundays and thats really what stood out the last few years.

  11. His 2013 season in karts was as impressive, if not more in many ways. It was a remarkable year when he dominated both the KF and KZ classes. The KZ classes were deep with world-class professional talent (the untold story of motorsport) which he made look average. KF was a similar affair until Bahrain where issues and an error led him to losing the KF World Championship. This year was just a matter of time. I used to watch live timing over the weekends back than, and he’d always gain a tenth on the field at some point during the weekend and it was game over.

    Vroom Karting Magazine said this earlier this year before the F1 seasons started “The 2013 of karting can be said to have been a “one-man show” by Max Verstappen (and CRG-TM). Will he want to take inspiration ten years later from this legendary season by repeating himself in Formula 1 as well?”

    the answer was as an emphatic a yes as there ever could have been. His only limit is his own interest and whether he decides to look elsewhere. If he goes WEC he may be the first driver in history to be a 3 category FIA World Champion.

  12. Based on grid contenders strength, the first 3 Prost’s championship were amazing.
    He had to race against Lauda, Piquet, Senna.
    Almost every podium he got on, had a former or future F1 champion.

    1. Based on grid contenders strength, Max also is racing Ham and Alonso; who are very strong. Almost every podium he got, it is with Ham/Alonso/Leclerc/Norris.

      1. Being a strong driver is insufficient to give a challenge, alonso proves that more than anyone else, not having had a title contending car for over a decade.

    2. Good point bringing Alain Prost to the discussion, He was relentless, even more so than Schuey or Alonso, and enormously more consistent than other successful drivers like Senna, Mansell, Piquet or Vettel. Only Max has reached that level since Le Proffeseur. But with a vengeance also. AP was rather poor in the rain (unlike his arch rival), but Max is a true rainmaster, I still reckon Interlagos 2016 his best race and the one that opened my eyes to someone truly special

  13. With unequal equipment it is always difficult to make comparisons, that being said Perez is the benchmark with which to use to try and apply some perspective to the achievement of Max Verstappen in 2023. Since joining Red Bull, Perez has barely ever looked like a top 10 driver. This season that level has dropped further, Perez objectively performed worse than most of the grid, only De Vries and Sargeant being obviously worse. Yet he still comfortably finished second in the championship, more than two races wins worth of points clear of Hamilton. Excluding the opening five events from the 2023 standings, Perez would still have finished 3rd in the championship just behind Norris.
    The point I’m trying to make is that the RB19 was so far ahead of the field, that even in the hands of one of the weakest performers on the grid in 2023 it beat everything else across the season. I love the metronomic consistency that Max demonstrated but any driver would have won the championship in that car which make it that little bit less impressive than some other feats we’ve seen in the past.

    1. Absolutely a good point, a lot of people try to say verstappen did something special because perez didn’t do anything noteworthy with that car, but to me perez was way worse than his usual self, and this already means a 2022 perez would’ve got example 75% of verstappen’s points, and then like you said if a driver with a disaster season ends up 2nd, it says enough about the car. I was never in doubt this was anything but a dominant car, already the first race convinced me we were in for a dominant season, while we had people say you can’t draw conclusion from a race: from a race win maybe, but not a win like that.

    2. Please provide any real data that Perez is bottom of the field in 2023. Just real data from race results. Your opinion is worthless as fact if not supported by data.

  14. No competition and no decent team mates, from impressive.

    1. No competition? What were the other 19 drivers, just fluff to fill the grid? Perez was and is a very decent teammate. Not Max caliber, but above midpack. Perfection and making it seem effortless is what Max showed this season. Never seen a drive that impressive.

  15. IMHO Alain Prost winning the 1985 championship is more impressive. Going up against past or future World Champions. Dominating when he could, scrapping points when needed and in the process demolishing his World Champion teammates is a good testimony of how impressive he was in a lesser car compared to the Williams that it should have won and probably would have if not for the problem with the tires in the last race of the season.

    1. I meant to write 1986, not ’85.

      1. Ahh, 1986, I was confused when reading 1985, cause I agree, 1986 was a really special season by prost, it’s one of the rare cases where a driver won the championship without having the car that won the championship, and the williams was indeed the best car that year, and I think it became even stronger the next year.

  16. Good points & I mostly agree with everything, but to note a few parts:
    While the hypothesis about Schumi, Senna, or Hamilton winning as frequently had they faced the 2023 grid level with RB19 is difficult, the former indeed won similarly frequently in 2002 & 04, but ofc Hamilton didn’t win as often in otherwise similarly-superior 2019 & ’20 seasons or Seb in 2011, even though the 2013 post-summer break phase was equally a single-driver dominance.
    Mclaren’s 1988 dominance & Mercedes’ in 2014-16 were actual team-specific dominances, so they’re mostly incomparable, although RB19 at least beat W05-07 (& F2002, 2004) & matched MP4/4 in winning percentage.
    The rally comparison is interesting, even if, at first glance, surprising as a totally different motorsport form.
    Concerning WRC, Ogier’s dominant 2013, ’15, & ’16 championships in the VW works team also came to mind.
    I also hope he faces a toughter challenge next season, even if he continues his championship-winning streak for the fourth consecutive season.

  17. Sticking to the seasons I actually witnessed first hand (late 90s onward), Verstappen’s 2023 was certainly among the more impressive championship-winning performances I’ve seen.

    It’s not just about the numbers, although they speak for themselves. But to achieve that in a car whose advantage over the field was generally measured in tenths rather than seconds (unlike, say, the early years of Hamilton’s domination), and without the benefit of the goalposts being moved mid-season (unlike Vettel in 2013, for instance) elevates Verstappen towards the top of the list.

    In terms of making a good car look totally dominant, I’d compare Verstappen’s season with Schumacher’s titles at Ferrari in 2000 and 2001. The car was strong but the driver got the absolute maximum out of it, in a way that very few drivers could.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      1st December 2023, 15:55

      @red-andy yeah, it does depend on the speed of the car. Some people thought it was equal but most people in F1 thought it was around 1 minute quicker than the 2nd fastest car over the race.

      So it’s either the most impressive or the least impressive season of all time, again depending on the actual speed of Max’s car. I’ve never witnessed a car do the things that Max’s car did but my experience is limited to watching 300-400 gran prix at least on a high definition TV with the ability to replay – it was hard to see details or replays on old low quality TVs ;-)

      1. True that in this era of management, it’s almost certain verstappen could’ve got at least 20 sec extra gap if needed in a given race, making winning so many races less impressive.

  18. Coventry Climax
    1st December 2023, 13:00

    Earlier in the season, we had discussions here about the strength of the driver field. Most, if not all, agreed it was stronger than it had been for over a good many years. Now, with the season over, a very large part of these same fans are now lamenting that there was lack in competition. Hmm. I think there was something else going on that made the competition look weak.
    Then, most seem to agree that this year’s Red Bull was a rocket ship, unbeatable by any competitior’s car. That leaves some questions though.
    First of all, the team mate issue. I personally think Perez isn’t up to the job, regardless of what car he drives, but it’s undeniable he can be quick – sometimes. Then look at Verstappen and ‘sometimes’ turns into ‘always’ – no exceptions. None of the competition, none of the former greats that we still have in the field, managed that – or has ever managed that.
    Second, at the start of the season, Perez was still capable of keeping up somewhat. But then things changed. Why? I think where Perez, like last year, lamented about how development didn’t suit him, didn’t go his way, Verstappen brought the insight and input on where and what areas to improve. In short, where Perez was a bystander, Verstappen took an active role. At least, minimum, he understood what changed with the car, and managed to make the changes materialise into consistently faster laptimes. He either managed to have the car changed his way, adapted to the changes brought, or both. Compare that to Hamilton just taking pictures wherever he can, sending them to the Merc’s tech department in just hope they can do something with it. That just screams both he and they are at a loss.
    Which brings us to the ‘Newey factor’. Sure, the man can be considered a genius. But generally, it takes another genius for them to be able to really communicate and understand what is said – both sides. It’s remarkable how some here say it’s all Newey, where it wasn’t Newey that drove the car. It’s also amazing to read Newey, on his own, was far superior to any of the full engineering teams of the competition. So, at Red Bull, there must be quite a bit of geniuses at work, to effectively communicate with Newey. I don’t buy it. He’s good, but not god. There’s more things at play there, and I’m certain Verstappen is part of it.
    Lastly, I agree it’s hard to compare the 2023 season to other seasons in other eras, with F1 having changed so much over the years. The thing that remains though, is the need to make the best of what you’re given, and by arguably all standards, Verstappen did just that. Yes, it’s boring, but that doesn’t make it less impressive.
    Is it also memorable? Just consider the stats that are thrown at us constantly -and not just on this site- and it’s clear we’ll come across the name Verstappen for a long, long time to come. If that’s not the definition of memorable, then what is?
    People tend to feel there’s less of an achievement when they percieved it as boring. First ofcourse, there zero relation between the two, and blaming Verstappen for things to be boring is downright ridiculous. If anyone is to blame for F1 being boring, it’s the FiA and it’s constant push to have the ruleset evolve to what we have now. Compare a 50’s or 60’s car to what we have now, and the differences are mind boggling. But have nowadays rules, and especially the restrictiveness of them, made racing more interesting? To me, over the years (some 50 of it) F1 has lost most, if not all of it’s shine and quality. I’m sure there’s newcomers that can’t make comparisons, and longtimers that are OK with all of it or simply don’t care, seemingly as long as there’s just a lot of it. Even Verstappen himself isn’t the greatest fan of some of the changes and direction changes in F1.
    Bottomline, I don’t have to like it, but neither does the rest of us; Verstappen’s achievement this season is one of the most outstanding ever. And that’s just saying ‘impressive’ in other words.

    1. I agree with your comments about this season and Verstappen. Also with your statement that you don’t have to like the changes F1 has gone through. But you write as of those changes were/are all bad. I watch F1 also almost 50 years. Not as historicus remembering who won what in which year, just as someone who first in Europe and later in the US made sure that I watched 90% of all races live (on TV), and some at the circuit, ultimately this year all three US races at the circuit. And although I do remember edge of the seat races between two or three drivers, I do much more remember “will his car make the finish” tension. I also remember the several crippling or even deadly accidents. I am very happy with all the rule changes that take away that “tension”. Nothing to do with “don’t seem to care” as you so casually throw around. And I absolutely can enjoy a season with shear domination of a single driver like Max this year. Reminds me of the MotoGP seasons with VR49.

      1. Coventry Climax
        2nd December 2023, 12:50

        So our history with F1 goes back about the same amount of time.
        As for the ‘will he make it to the finish yes or no’, that’s a type of tension that I’m very much OK with. F1 cars used to be very experimental, and suffering technical issues just comes along with that. To me, the combination was actually part of the excitement.
        The part I could sort of plea guilty to, is not saying anything about safety. The article was about Verstappens achievement though, and my point of splitting achievement from boring.
        To make my stance clear: Every single deadly and severe incident has been a black page to me, as opposed to people who specifically go look for entertainment and search the internet for things like ‘biggest crashes’ and ‘faces of death’. That is NOT my type of thrill, not in F1, not anywhere.
        So I agree with you that the end result of a safer F1 is a good one. Whether all the choices made to get there were the only right choices to make, is another matter. (Sausage curbs was a downright dumb one, for instance.)
        I think the FiA actually made some very debateable choices, and sometimes even more for external reasons (saving face) than anything else, and they tend to even mix up and confuse safety with show. (Ride height/porpoising measures e.g.) I even think their view on ‘fairness’ is compromised.
        Also, the FiA claims to be on the front of safety measures, whereas I think they’re generally actually quite late in recognising issues, let alone deal with them.
        I think we agree on the end result of less deadly incidents being the right thing. But I don’t think that how they/we got there is all roses and honey.

        My ‘don’t care’ remark was solely intended at the address of people who prefer quantity and gimmick over quality, and had absolutely nothing to do with safety matters. The quantity and gimmick is by FiA choice, or not standing up to Liberty, if you will, although ultimately, that’s a choice too.

  19. Don’t know. But Gary Anderson recently said not even in the Senna or Schumacher days did he witness Max’s level of performance, no matter the car. Jackie Stewart and the late Niki Lauda made similar statements a couple of years ago already. That’s good enough for me. Speaking of the last decade+, if Max had been a few years older and teamed with Vettel in 2014 or Rosberg in 2016 they would most certainly not see Max lose out.

  20. That would be Ricciardo of course, not Vettel …

    1. Yes, agree, he’s capable of performing even without a dominant car and doesn’t lack motivation to get the best out of any machinery like hamilton might, he’s more like alonso that way.

  21. I want Max to bagel Perez in the qualifying battle and finish ahead in every race in 2024. This season wasn’t 100% perfect because Max had a slow start to the season.

  22. I don’t seriously think Verstappen could have driven any better, somehow he remained motivated throughout the season, was ruthless in quashing any threat from his one, and only, potential rival for the championship, whom he annihilated in race 5. Clearly Verstappen also learnt new skills to maintain that dominance. Was it impressive? Totally. Flawless? No but near enough for any mortal. Was it the most impressive? Obviously not – nowhere near being so. And not his fault. It’s simply impossible to rate a championship where the winner has been completely unchallenged for 80% of the season with those championship battles in many past seasons that have gone to the wire.

  23. What makes a great season? Enjoyment is a great part of it. And the title down to the wire until the last lap is a huge enhancement.

    Maybe no one has driven so flawlessly along a season as Max has just done, although Fangio, Clark, Rindt or Prost can be argued for. But this was certainly not a great season, the dominance was too overwhelming, even if the car factor was rather thin, even inexistente at times. 2021 was a much more enjoyable season, even if the driving was not so relentlessly near-perfect

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