‘Max Verstappen may have won 15 grands prix but he didn’t dominate’

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen sprays Red Bull in title celebration. United States, October 2022.

Max Verstappen sprays Red Bull drink at the team after they win the Constructors' title. United States, October 2022.

Max Verstappen won 15 of this past season’s 22 races but Dutch Grand Prix sporting director Jan Lammers has refuted suggestions he dominated.

The Red Bull driver’s title defence got off to a tricky start, Verstappen retiring twice in the opening three races due to minor niggles with his RB18. But it was enough to put him 46 points behind Charles Leclerc after the Australian Grand Prix.

Frustrated with his results, the Dutchman told the media he wasn’t thinking of a second World title and would just take it race by race. And race by race he began to claw back the deficit, turning it into a six-point advantage just three races later.

From there he never looked back.

Racing to 15 wins in a 22-race season, Verstappen never once relinquished P1 once it was in his grasp and secured the title in Japan with four races to spare. He set a new record for the most wins in a single season, most points scored and for overturning the biggest deficit to win a World title.

But Lammers is adamant it wasn’t a case of domination, the 25-year-old had to work for it.

“Yes, actually immensely,” the 66-year-old told Motorsport.com when asked if he’d enjoyed the season. “I don’t know if all of us realise how special this year was.

“Of course we have the record with 15 wins from Max. That is really special.

“Usually such victories come from dominance but the most special thing of all is Max hasn’t dominated.

“The last few races looked easy but he still had to fight for it and even started the season with a bit of adversity.

“When you look at all the races won that way, then that is very special. Every motorsport enthusiast should be grateful that you are part of this generation.”

Verstappen won the championship despite having fewer pole positions than runner-up Charles Leclerc, seven to nine, the double World Champion having to recover on Sundays.

“I think what he’s done this year is just the Max he’s been since he was 14, 15 or 16,” Lammers continued. “Of course you learn to distribute your efforts better during the weekend.

“You often want to be the fastest in the first round on Friday. But people who are getting older just realise that they only have to be three feet ahead and that’s Sunday afternoon.

“Max is someone who is always there and always on. George Russell comes closest in that regard. He is also a constant performer. Statistically it was Max’s best season, but I think he’s always been like that.”

The former F1 driver applauded both Verstappen and Red Bull for their hard work to turn around the deficit to win the World title.

“From both his team and him,” he said. “If you make up the score after three races, the philosophy is that only rest can save you. So keep your head calm and make your analyses soberly.

“In the end, it’s just choosing the right thought and take the right actions. That determines whether you overcome your success. Red Bull has done that from their potential.”

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