Formula 1 didn’t see a great deal of wheel-to-wheel racing from Max Verstappen in 2023, but that’s done little to change his reputation amongst F1 fans that he’s one of the dirtiest drivers on today’s grid.
Last year, Verstappen recorded the most dominant campaign ever in Formula 1 as the Red Bull driver stormed to a third World title with 19 Grands Prix wins and 21 podiums from 22 races.
But with his RB19 in a league of its own, the moments in which the Red Bull driver had to race a rival for a position were few and far between, and yet he still managed to end the season with two penalty points.
Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton lead the charge
Those were awarded to him at the Las Vegas Grand Prix, along with a five-second time penalty, when he forced Charles Leclerc off the track as he battled the Ferrari driver for the lead.
It did little to change some Formula 1 fans’ opinions that he’s the dirtiest of them all.
On Track GP, the YouTube channel launched in collaboration between PlanetF1.com and DR Sports in 2023, recently asked fans that attended Autosport International who is the ‘dirtiest driver currently on the F1 grid’.
“Max Verstappen” was one of the most prominent responses.
“Max Verstappen gets a lot of stick that for but I think he’s probably cleaned it up a lot over the last couple of years,” said one fan. “Since he’s won a few titles, he’s kind of finessed his style a little bit.”
But, there’s a caveat to that, the Mercedes fan adding: “I think he knows if he going to go up against Lewis he’s going to have to fight very hard if they’re in similar powered cars.
“But I think he’s learned to kind of pull back just a little bit in wheel-to-wheel battles so it won’t be kind of the same as in 2021.”
That opinion was echoed by another gent, who was quick to name “Max Verstappen” before declaring Formula 1 would get to see it again in a “few years when he’s back in the pack a bit more and we’ll see what happens.”
His 2021 title rival Hamilton also featured with the Mercedes driver having earned the ire of two rival fans who are holding a grudge after his 2023 Italian Grand Prix antic.
“Hamilton,” said the lady in the McLaren T-shirt. “He pushed, it was either Lando or Oscar…”
“Oscar,” replied the other McLaren fan who admitted, “We weren’t happy about that.”
Kevin Magnussen and Esteban Ocon in the running
But the 2021 title protagonists weren’t the only ones to get a nod or three with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen featuring in the top-four mentions.
“He’s always been a dirty driver and some things never change, do they,” said one fan who ruled out the Dane doing anything to change his mind this season as he’s “too far out of the back”.
But while another gent also put him on his list, he explained it was more down to being an “aggressive driver” than a dirty one.
“He sometimes gets into fights where he doesn’t need to, especially if he’s fighting top-running cars.”
He reckons Alpine’s Esteban Ocon is up there too, but also because of his aggression.
“Ocon, a little bit. I get why people think Ocon. I think he’s a bit like Magnussen,” he added.
“I don’t think he’s dirty dirty, he just sometimes gets a little bit hot-headed. I don’t think he takes anyone out on purpose as such, but he’s very aggressive.”
The Merc fan agreed: “Ocon can be very feisty sometimes so I’ll probably go with him.”
George Russell and Yuki Tsunoda joined the list, the former’s name spilling from the lips of a Mercedes fan!
Watch the full video below!