Max Verstappen did not see 2022 title win as ‘total dominance’, expects tight 2023

Max Verstappen headshot. Red Bull February 2023. Credit: Alamy
Max Verstappen headshot. Red Bull February 2023. Credit: Alamy

Max Verstappen is expecting a much closer season in 2023, after a year which saw him wrap up the Drivers’ Championship with four races to spare.

The Red Bull driver took an all-time record 15 victories in 2022 as he won his second World Championship in succession, beating Charles Leclerc of Ferrari by 146 points after winning nine of the final 11 races.

But Red Bull did not have it their own way for much of the year on pure pace, with Ferrari having taken more pole positions over the course of the season and seemingly on Red Bull’s level – but Verstappen credited his team for how they were able to manage races in ways their rivals could not.

When the World Champion was asked if he would like to see a tighter title fight in 2023, with last year having seemingly been a foregone conclusion the summer break, he felt it was not quite as simple as that.

“I mean, I think also last year, the gap was a bit bigger than it actually should have been,” Verstappen said in response to a question from PlanetF1.com after the launch of the RB19.

“Because if you look at how tough some races were to win, I don’t think you can speak of like total dominance, right?

“So, a lot of teams made mistakes, and that, of course, with us not making that many mistakes and being quite consistent over the whole year, we’ve benefitted from that.

“And I think that’s, of course, a great quality of the team but, for sure, now in the second year of the regulations, I think people will understand the cars better.

“So for sure, it will be a lot closer. I’m sure of it.”

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Now looking to become only the fifth driver to win three World Championships in a row, the Red Bull driver will be counting on the RB19 to deliver in the same way its predecessor managed on track last year.

But even within himself, he added that he is looking to extract what he can to keep improving race by race.

“I know that sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right?” Verstappen reasoned.

“You always try to improve it, and I always look at the little details like even when you have had a good race, there are always things that you could have done better, I think, and then of course, you also learn from the bad races.

“So yeah, always trying to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year and you try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have around you.”

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