Christian Horner, Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2023

Verstappen hit ‘phenomenal heights’ in record-breaking season – Horner

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World champion Max Verstappen hit “phenomenal new heights” during a record-breaking season, says Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

The pair will receive their Formula 1 world championship trophies this evening in Baku, Azerbaijan as part of the FIA’s annual prize giving gala.

Verstappen won his third-consecutive world title in 2023 with a record-breaking 19 victories from 23 rounds, while Red Bull successfully defended their constructors’ championship from last season. Red Bull also set new records for the most victories by a team in a single season, as well as breaking McLaren’s 1988 record for most consecutive grand prix wins.

Hailing his historic season, Verstappen said it was never the goal for him to set new all-time records in the sport.

“We’ve won a lot as a team,” Verstappen said. “But it’s also just been really enjoyable to work with everyone inside the team.

“Of course, once you are winning a few in a row, you want to keep that momentum going. The pressure is always on, you always want to do well. But I was never thinking about trying to break all these kind of records, I was just trying to do the best I could every single race weekend and enjoy it as well at the same time. Because you know that these kind of great moments, they don’t come along that often. So it was, of course, a very, very good year.”

Horner said his team’s achievements throughout 2023 demonstrated that Red Bull’s strengths were more than just having an historically great car in their RB19.

“It’s been a remarkable season for us,” Horner said. “None of us could have ever imagined this kind of season that we’ve just completed.

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“To win 21 out of the 22 races, five out of the six sprint races, defend both titles and break many records along the way – some that have stood since 1988.

“I think it epitomises that every aspect of the team has just been operating at a phenomenal level and it’s not just the design of the car and the operation of the car. It’s the production, it’s the support functions – it’s every single department. Across all the different challenges, the different types of circuits, conditions that we’ve had over the course of the year. Reliability – our partner Honda, giving us a great product for the year as well.

“So it’s a combination of all those aspects that have come together that has just been the most gratifying team performance that I doubt will be able to achieve again, statistically, what we’ve done this year.”

Verstappen won his third world title with the greatest winning margin any driver has ever achieved in Formula 1, scoring points in ever grand prix and leading over 1,000 racing laps in the season. Horner said his world champion driver continued to improve as a driver following his first two titles.

“He just continues to hit new levels,” Horner said. “I think the only damage that he did this year was driving out of the garage in Silverstone and clipping the front wing.

“It’s just phenomenal, the heights that he’s hit, the consistency. Some of the races – even with adversity coming from the back of the grid after issues in qualifying – there’s been some stunning performances this year and he just continues to raise the bar. It’s just great to see how he works with the team, with his engineering team. And we are exactly that – we’re a team. Everybody’s just got that same hunger and desire and, of course, Max is leading that from the front from behind the wheel.”

Despite enjoying the best season any driver has ever had, Verstappen insists that there is room for him and Red Bull to improve into next season.

“You can talk about percentages or whatever, but for sure there’s always things that we can do better,” he said. “We know that.

“Of course, the car’s been very, very dominant, but we’ve also seen a few, let’s say, weaknesses in the car, which I think we can do better. And that’s what we’re working on for next year.”

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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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10 comments on “Verstappen hit ‘phenomenal heights’ in record-breaking season – Horner”

  1. eugenics! He was always Jos’ cunning plan

  2. You mean his car hit new heights, Checo hit the bottle

    1. Even Perez got 2nd in WDC in this car. That tells everything.

  3. It would be almost impossible for anyone to have such a dominating season in the next few years or maybe in the next few decades.

  4. we’ve also seen a few, let’s say, weaknesses in the car, which I think we can do better. And that’s what we’re working on for next year.

    Max Verstappen – 2024 Formula 1 World Champion.

    1. And if so, obviously red bull too.

  5. I’ve been watching F1 for 23 years and I’ve never seen such a phenomenal performance throughout the whole season. There were periods of dominations (Schumacher, Vettel, Hamilton), but even in those eras dominating drivers were making mistakes and letting others to win, even though their cars had much bigger advantage (2004, 2014, 2015 pops to mind among others). Meanwhile Verstapen was at 100% almost in every race this season (except Baku, Singapore was more down to the car and setup). Keep in mind that we had chaotic races, were in domination eras it usually meant opportunities for others. But Verstappen was winning in the wet, in chaos. He was like machine, though I consider Schumacher and Alonso as machines. Verstappen was greater than them with his performances. The car was dominant, but it didn’t have such a huge advantage. Maybe in the first races, but others cought up and Verstappen was still winning. So you have to admire the guy, this year we saw one of the best performances in the history of the sport.

    1. Robert Henning
      9th December 2023, 15:00

      Yes, that would be a very good summary. Verstappen did have to fight for some wins at races like Monza/Vegas as well.

      And even Baku, his underperformance was half a tenth on average quicker than Perez and Perez did get the position by virtue of a safety car….

      I’d say it is as near-perfect a season can be everything considered.

    2. There was no year with a bigger car advantage than this year. Same for the reliability of the RBR car.

      1. That is not true. Schumacher was winning by 1 minute from other teams in 2004. Meanwhile Mercs in 2014 and 2015 were hiding their true pace. I remember Bahrain 2014, when Hamilton fought with Rosberg. They were running from others by 2 seconds per lap. And they easily had at least a second in qualifuing. That was insane. Verstappen had a couple tenths advantage in quali and 1 second advantage in race at the beginning of the season. But after 1/3 of the season he had maybe 3-5 tenths in races but basically nothing in qualifying. So it was not as dominant as Schumacher and Hamilton years.

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