Formula 1's Max Verstappen is having the most dominant racing season ever

Verstappen's 2023 is better than seasons put up by the likes of Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton

El piloto de Red Bull Max Verstappen celebra en el podio tras su victoria en el Gran Premio de Japón de la Fórmula Uno el domingo 24 de septiembre de 2023, en Suzuka. (AP Foto/Toru Hanai)
Max Verstappen has won 14 of 17 races so far during the 2023 Formula 1 season. (AP Photo)

Max Verstappen is having the best season in modern auto racing history.

Verstappen’s win on Oct. 8 in the Qatar Grand Prix capped a weekend where he clinched his third consecutive world championship and joined an exclusive club of F1 greats with at least three titles. He's just kept winning since.

After beating Lewis Hamilton in a back-and-forth battle over the course of the 2021 season, Verstappen and Red Bull Racing have been far and away the best over the past two seasons in F1. And for as good as Verstappen was a season ago, he’s been even better in 2023.

Verstappen has won five straight races since Carlos Sainz Jr. snapped his 10-race win streak in Singapore in September. Overall, Verstappen has won 17 of 20 Formula 1 races ahead of the Las Vegas Grand Prix and has clinched the records for the most wins in a single F1 season and the best winning percentage in any F1 season.

The 26-year-old Dutch driver's 16th win of the season in Mexico City broke a record he set in 2022 for the most victories in a single season. That win also ensured that Verstappen broke Michael Schumacher's win percentage record.

Schumacher won 13 of 18 races in 2004 for a 72% win percentage. Verstappen's 16th win meant he'd finish 2023 with a win percentage of 72.7%, a baseline number that only grew with his win in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

If Verstappen wins in Las Vegas and at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, he'll finish the season with 19 wins over 22 races and a staggering win percentage of 86%. Both numbers could end up being unassailable for the rest of F1 history.

For a great perspective on just how good Verstappen has been this season, here’s how his 2023 stacks up to the most dominant F1 seasons of the 2000s.

Michael Schumacher, 2002

  • 11 wins in 17 races

  • 17 podiums

  • 7 pole positions

  • 561 laps led

  • 1.4 average finish

While Schumacher would set the F1 record for win percentage two years later, his 2002 season is arguably better. His lowest finish all year was a third in the second race of the season. He finished second five times and won every other race. Schumacher never qualified lower than third in 2002 and completed every lap of every Grand Prix.

Michael Schumacher, 2004

  • 13 wins in 18 races

  • 15 podiums

  • 8 poles

  • 682 laps led

  • 2.6 average finish

Schumacher won the first five races of the season before crashing out at Monaco and finishing 11th. He rebounded with seven consecutive wins before winning just one of the final five races of the season. That relatively sluggish end to the regular season didn’t matter as Schumacher had clinched the title with four races to go.

Sebastian Vettel, 2011

  • 11 wins in 19 races

  • 17 podiums

  • 15 poles

  • 739 laps led

  • 2.7 average finish

After winning his first F1 title in 2010, Vettel was even better in 2011 as he finished lower than third just twice all season. He was set to finish no lower than fourth all season before a tire puncture early in the penultimate race of the season at Abu Dhabi resulted in a last-place finish. In addition to his race dominance, Vettel set the modern standard for qualifying performance over a single season with three second-place starts and one third-place start in addition to his 15 poles.

Sebastian Vettel, 2013

  • 13 wins in 19 races

  • 16 podiums

  • 9 poles

  • 684 laps led

  • 2.6 average finish

Vettel won his fourth consecutive title with an incredible second half that stood as an F1 record for nearly 10 years. After four wins over the first 10 races of the season, Vettel won the final nine races and finished every race on the lead lap save for a gearbox failure at the British Grand Prix. Verstappen broke Vettel’s record of nine straight wins with his 10th consecutive win of 2023 at the Italian Grand Prix in September.

Lewis Hamilton, 2014

  • 11 wins in 19 races

  • 16 podiums

  • 7 poles

  • 495 laps led

  • 4.1 average finish

Hamilton’s second year at Mercedes was remarkable. After winning just one race in 2013, he won four of the first five races and then six of the last seven. A midseason slump depressed his total of laps led, but Hamilton’s second career title was a sign of major things to come from Mercedes over the second half of the 2010s.

Lewis Hamilton, 2020

  • 11 wins in 16 races

  • 14 podiums

  • 10 poles

  • 613 laps led

  • 1.9 average finish

Hamilton’s seventh title came in his most dominant season. Hamilton completed every lap of every race he was in — he missed the Sakhir Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID-19 — and led 613 of 950 laps. He clinched the title with a remarkable drive from sixth at the Turkish Grand Prix and never went consecutive races without a victory throughout the entirety of the season.

Max Verstappen, 2022

  • 15 wins in 22 races

  • 17 podiums

  • 7 poles

  • 615 laps led

  • 3.5 average finish

Verstappen set the modern F1 record for wins in a season after a slow start. Verstappen had mechanical failures in two of the first three races before winning five of the next six and becoming even more dominant as the season went on. Verstappen won nine of the final 11 races of the season and had the championship wrapped up with four races to go.

Max Verstappen 2023*

  • 17 wins in 20 races

  • 19 podiums

  • 11 poles

  • 922 laps led

  • 1.3 average finish

Verstappen ended the 2022 season with a win and won 12 of the first 14 races. Sergio Perez won those other two as Red Bull set an F1 record with 15 consecutive wins. That run included 10 consecutive wins for Verstappen — also a Formula 1 record — and it seems entirely plausible that Verstappen could win the remaining five races.

*Season still ongoing