With Max Verstappen wrapping up a third World title with six grands prix still to be run, George Russell hopes Mercedes can enter the mix next season as “nobody likes to see” that level of dominance.
Verstappen has been in imperious form this season, the Red Bull driver finishing on the podium in 15 of 16 grands prix, his stats including 13 wins of which 10 came during a record-breaking winning streak.
He’s also won two of four sprint races and has been on the podium in the other two, the most recent of which was his P2 in Saturday night’s Qatar Sprint race.
Max Verstappen secured the 2023 World title on Saturday in Qatar
That was enough to seal the 2023 Drivers’ Championship title with Verstappen winning that for the third successive season.
And in a year that he considers to be his “best” ever, Mercedes driver Russell says one can only applaud Verstappen’s success while plotting to end it.
“A huge congratulations to him and Red Bull,” he told Sky Sports.
“From the outset, Red Bull were far superior to everybody else, and then Max has then obviously been on another level recently. So we can only congratulate him.
“We’ve got to look at ourselves in the mirror and raise our game to give them some trouble next year, because nobody likes to see that dominance.
“And we want to be there in the fight and putting them under a bit of pressure.”
Sergio Perez, arguably the biggest loser under Verstappen’s dominance, with the Mexican driver taking just two wins to his team-mate’s 13 despite driving the same RB19, concedes he wishes it had been him instead.
“I think we would all like to be in Max’s position today, but there can only be one winner,” said the 33-year-old. “He’s driven a lot better than anyone else this season and he deserves all the success.
“I’m happy for him, he worked really hard for it, together with all the team, and well done to him.”
Crashing out of the Sprint race in Qatar, Perez has 223 points to Verstappen’s 407.
Meanwhile, the Dutchman’s first Formula 1 team-mate, Carlos Sainz, added: “I just congratulate him [for what he’s achieved] as it’s very well deserved. I think they did an amazing season and they deserve the championship.”