Verstappen knows it will be “very difficult” to repeat this great year
In the 22nd race of the longest Formula 1 season ever, Max Verstappen was on top of the podium for the fifteenth time. With his victory in Abu Dhabi, Red Bull’s superior driver wrote history: never before has a driver won so many races in one season.
“Fifteen wins is really unbelievable,” said the two-time world champion on first reaction, after celebrating the season with some cake on the Yas Marina Circuit. “I really enjoyed this year.”
“We’ve worked very well with the whole team to create something special together. I know it’s going to be very difficult to replicate this. But it provides motivation to do well again next year.”
View reactions from Jos Verstappen, Helmut Marko, Christian Horner and Mattia Binotto below.
As exciting as last season’s Formula 1 season was (with a fearsome finale between Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at the final round in Abu Dhabi), it has been one-sided for Limburger’s second championship year.
More wins than Schumacher and Vettel
At the beginning of October, Verstappen had already secured the world title in Japan and two weeks later in the United States, Red Bull was already sure of the Constructors’ Championship.
With his fifteen victories, Verstappen broke the record of Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, who won thirteen races in one season. It should be noted that there were fewer Grand Prix races in a season than in their time.
Verstappen’s fifteenth victory was an example of his season, in which he was alone. He started from the pole and wasn’t in trouble. While many other drivers opted for the pitstop strategy, Verstappen managed to save his tires well and only had to go in once.
The only downside in Abu Dhabi is that team mate Sergio Perez lost the battle with Charles Leclerc for second place in the championship. Verstappen managed to lend a hand to the Mexican in qualifying on Saturday, one day into the race Perez had to figure it out for himself.
Search for Sina
Despite this, Red Bull could be looking back on one of its best seasons ever. Team boss Christian Horner dedicated the Austrian team’s first season to Dietrich Mateschitz. The founder passed away last month at the age of 78.
“The championship race in Japan was the last race Dieter Mateschitz would watch,” says Horner. In 2014, the Red Bull founder and godfather of the racing stable gave the green light to teenager Verstappen’s F1 career without a driver’s license.
Meschitz died thirteen days later. “I’m so glad he was able to experience Max as he extended the world title,” says Horner. A very special moment. It adds value to his heroism.”
Verstappen has already booked the 35th victory of his career in Abu Dhabi. This puts the 25-year-old driver sixth in the eternal standings. Next season, he could look for Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna (41) and possibly also Alain Prost (51) and Sebastian Vettel (53).
Vettel, who won four consecutive world titles with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013, bid farewell to the sport in Abu Dhabi. Verstappen praised the 35-year-old German and changed his helmet before the race as a sign of respect and friendship.
After a long season, Verstappen is now ready for a break. “I’m going to do as little as possible this winter,” he said in a post-race press conference. “It’s time to relax and enjoy what we’ve all achieved. Because we haven’t done enough in this busy season.”
Verstappen expects more competition next year. “It probably will come close. All the teams have learned a lot this year with the new cars and the new regulations.”
The new season will start in Bahrain at the beginning of March, with testing days ending at the end of February. It will be a season longer than this year, with a record 24 races on the calendar at the moment, although there seems to be a good chance the Chinese Grand Prix will not take place.
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