Fred Vasseur’s blunt take on ‘Max Verstappen is damaging F1’ suggestions

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, pulls a funny expression with Charles Leclerc. Bahrain, March 2023.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, pulls a funny expression at Charles Leclerc, Ferrari. Bahrain, March 2023.

Fred Vasseur has refuted suggestions Max Verstappen is “damaging” Formula 1, the Ferrari team boss adamant that is “not” the case and that it’s up to his rivals to do better.

Despite starting the Belgian Grand Prix from sixth on the grid, it was always just a matter of time before Verstappen would lead with P3 starter Lewis Hamilton conceding ahead of the race that the Dutchman will be “sailing” by at some point.

And sail by he did, even against the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez, with Verstappen passing his team-mate on the track to lead the grand prix on lap 17.

‘It is not that Max Verstappen is damaging F1’

Additional reporting by Sam Cooper and Thomas Maher

Cruising to the chequered flag with a 22-second winning margin, Verstappen recorded his 10th win of this season and his eighth on the trot. The latter put him just one away from Sebastian Vettel’s all-time record of nine successive wins set in 2013 with Red Bull.

The victory saw the reigning World Champion take a 125-point lead in the Drivers’ standings and at this rate, he could challenge Michael Schumacher’s record for the earliest title victory set in 2002 with Ferrari when he won with six races in hand.

It had pundits debating whether the Dutchman’s success is “almost actually ruining Formula One a little bit” as Harry Benjamin put it on the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast.

But while former Williams driver Jack Aiken said fans were being “robbed a little bit” as it meant a “boring” championship, Ferrari team boss Vasseur believes the blame rests with Red Bull’s rivals.

“I think we have to collectively do a better job,” Vasseur told media including

“It is not that Max is damaging [F1]. Max is doing a fantastic job, Red Bull is doing a fantastic job and it’s just that we have to do better. We can’t complain about Max or Red Bull.” recommends

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Is it Max Verstappen, or is the RB19?

It begs the question is Red Bull’s 2023 rampage down to Verstappen or the RB19?

While the Dutchman has recorded 10 wins and has finished every race inside the top ten, his team-mate Sergio Perez has just two wins and only seven podium results to his name.

That question was put to Vasseur, who replied: “It’s quite impossible to split between the driver and team or car. The car is developing the car, he’s also setting up the car, that’s part of the performance of the car.

“Now for sure that when you see the result that race after race there is a big difference between the two team-mates, but this is not my issue, it is the issue of Red Bull.”

With Charles Leclerc back on the podium at the Belgian Grand Prix, Ferrari have closed the gap to Aston Martin to just five points in the Constructors’ Championship. They are, however, a massive 312 behind Red Bull.

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