Dutch pundit makes surprising claim about Max Verstappen dominant era
Dutch pundit Michael Bleekemolen believes an era of Max Verstappen dominance could be even more “boring” than Lewis Hamilton’s winning run.
With currently two titles to his name, Verstappen is still some way off the level of dominance of Hamilton who won four titles back-to-back from 2017 to 2020 but the early signs are the Dutchman could go on to match the benchmark set by the Mercedes driver.
Verstappen won a record 15 races in 2022 and already has three victories in 2023 after just five races. The pace advantage of the RB19 suggests Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez are the only two drivers in with a chance currently and the Dutchman has frequently had the beating of his Red Bull partner.
This comes as great news to the majority of many Dutch fans supporting Verstappen except for one, former driver Bleekemolen.
The RAM and ATS man, who made one start in 1978, admitted that while Verstappen’s success was “fantastic” for the Dutch, he was concerned the sport could become “boring” if the trend stays the same.
“As a chauvinistic Dutchman, this is of course absolutely fantastic,” Bleekemolen told RacingNews365.com.
“But we must also be careful that this does not become a display even worse than Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher showed. Those other teams and guys really need to start trying their best now.”
It appears Perez poses the biggest threat to Verstappen’s dominance with the Mexican having so far won two grands prix and away from Red Bull, Fernando Alonso has emerged as the next best having finished on the podium four times in 2023.
But even with Aston Martin’s dramatic improvement, Alonso is currently 44 points behind Verstappen.
“There is, of course, Alonso,” Bleekemolen said. “Unbelievable that he goes so fast. The rest, I don’t know yet who the direct competitors are, aren’t really getting there yet.
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“That’s not good for the sport. Good for Max and for Red Bull, but I hope he doesn’t get the same reputation as his predecessors, of, ‘Oh yeah, he always wins anyway…'”
The one hope for fans desperate to see a competitive championship is that upgrades for the teams may pull them closer to Red Bull. The race in Imola this weekend is expected to see a whole host of changes as the season prepares for its European run.
But Bleekemolen is not confident teams will be able to close such a gap even with upgrades.
“If the basic [concept] is not good, then you can always try new things, but if we look at Mercedes, for example: maybe there is something wrong with the concept. Maybe the Mercedes is a few centimetres too long or something like that.
“You can’t just change that, so that’s a bigger problem. And if you change something, will you be there? That always remains the question.
“I think that everything will remain about the same in the coming races. They won’t get much closer to the Red Bull and you also have Max: he is already a few tenths faster than anyone else.”
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