Max Verstappen dominance masked ‘easily missed’ key F1 2023 factor

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen, Red Bull

Max Verstappen claimed a record 19 victories over the course of a dominant F1 2023 season.

F1 commentator Harry Benjamin has told the On Track GP podcast of his regret that Max Verstappen’s dominance of the 2023 season overshadowed an exciting battle in the midfield.

Verstappen eased to a third successive World Championship in 2023, setting a new record by winning 19 of the 22 races for the dominant Red Bull team.

The Dutchman wrapped up the title with six grands prix remaining and finished with more than double the amount of points of team-mate Sergio Perez, with Red Bull’s only defeat occurring at September’s Singapore Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen overshadowed thrilling F1 2023 midfield battle

Appearing on the On Track GP podcast, the YouTube channel launched in collaboration between PlanetF1.com and DR Sports in 2023, Benjamin claimed Verstappen’s dominance even exceeded that of Michael Schumacher, who won five of his seven titles with Ferrari from 2000.

But he is encouraged that the competition behind Red Bull proved so close, with close battles between Mercedes and Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin and four team in the fight for seventh place in the standings, ultimately claimed by Williams.

He said: “You have to take your hat off [to Verstappen], first of all, and go: ‘Amazing work. Congratulations.’ It’s the most dominant anyone’s ever been, you can even go back to Schumacher.

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“But I think what was easily missed is that actually the gap behind with everybody else is really tight, so you can get excited about that.

“But I understand to the general viewer that it’s all well and good getting excited about the battle for seventh place, but when the leader is 47 seconds ahead that’s not really fun and it’s a hard sell.

“It’s up to everybody else now to try and close that gap and catch up to Red Bull, so fingers crossed, but it’s still a masterful [body of] work by [Verstappen].”

Assessing the 2023 season as a whole, Benjamin admitted that the campaign did not meet expectations – but pointed to the inaugural Las Vegas, where Verstappen faced a considerable challenge from Ferrari star Charles Leclerc as a highlight.

He said: “A little bit disappointing, with Verstappen’s dominance, obviously. Nobody really wants to see that.

“There were some really good races. You look at Vegas, [which] turned out pretty well. I think we all were [surprised by that].

“It was not a good start [to the weekend after a loose manhole cover resulted in the cancellation of opening practice].

“But to have Verstappen diving down the inside of Leclerc right at the very start, it was a bit like the Verstappen of old all of a sudden because we haven’t really seen him have to fight, whereas he was elbows out from the get-go there: elbows out, completely off the track and just: ‘I’ll take the position, give me the five-second time penalty.'”

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On Track GP is a YouTube channel launched in collaboration between PlanetF1.com and DR Sports in 2023. You can watch the full episode with F1 commentator Harry Benjamin below.

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