The number ‘1’ will be back on the grid next season, Max Verstappen insisting as long as he’s World Champion, he will use that “beautiful” number.
Winning the 2021 World title after a hard-fought championship battle against Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen opted to drop his race number ’33’ and instead put the ‘1’ on his new Red Bull racer.
Announcing his decision, he said: “How many times can you do that? I don’t know, maybe it’s the only time I can in my life.
“I think it’s the best number out there. I will definitely put it on the car.”
Apparently for Verstappen the answer to how many times it at least twice.
He won this year’s World title, wrapping it up at the Japanese Grand Prix with four races to spare, and says he’ll be sticking with the ‘1’.
“Yes, I will use number 1 again next season,” he said as per Motorsport.com. “For me, starting number 1 is the most beautiful number there is for any racing driver.
“How often do you get the chance to drive with starting number 1 in your Formula 1 career? You never know.
“I can always go back to number 33 if I am no longer World Champion. But as long as I am World Champion, I will use number 1 every single year.”
A record-setting season for Max Verstappen
And Verstappen was number one in all the stats that matter this season, except for most pole positions which went to Charles Leclerc.
The Red Bull driver claimed the most wins, 15, the most podiums, 17, the most points, 454, and the most fastest laps, five.
In doing so he set a new record for the most wins in a single season, and also a record for the most points scored in one campaign.
He added another record to his tally as well, the largest points deficit overturned on the way to a Drivers’ Championship title, 46. That’s by how much he trailed Leclerc after the Australian Grand Prix only to fight back, overturning that three races later for a six-point lead.
From there he never looked back, never once relinquishing P1 on his way to back-to-back championship titles. Red Bull also secured the Constructors’ crown, over 200 points clear of Ferrari.
“This has been a very special season, not only for me but also for the team,” Verstappen said.
“We have won the Constructors’ title again for the first time since 2013 and that is obviously very important for the entire team.
“I think it will be very difficult to match this year in the future, let alone surpass it.
“The mindset should obviously be to do better every single season, but that won’t be easy after the year we had. We should also cherish how 2022 turned out and really enjoy these moments.”
Max Verstappen predicts a ‘closer’ fight in 2023
The 25-year-old is convinced Red Bull will have a tougher fight on their hands next season.
While they dominated this season, they were given a bit of a helping hand as Ferrari’s title quest faded away through reliability and strategy errors while Mercedes were never in the mix with their porpoising W13.
“I do think it will be closer,” he said. “People are understanding the cars a lot more. And over time all the teams will just edge closer.
“We know now, over the winter, we really have to keep pushing and keep trying to find performance and not only performance, understanding, possibly the tyres even more, because the tyres will change a bit for next year. So yeah, let’s see how we are going to manage all of that.”