Max Verstappen warns complacency would mean it is time to stop racing

Henry Valantine
Max Verstappen in the paddock. Spa August 2022.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen wears a cap while in the paddock. Belgium August 2022.

Max Verstappen believes the moment he relaxes or becomes complacent in Formula 1, that would be the time to call it a day.

The World Championship leader tops the standings by a huge 80-point margin heading into the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, having taken eight race wins so far this season, moving to 28 grand prix victories in his career to date as part of 70 podium finishes.

Having taken the title last season, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner still feels the 24-year-old is yet to reach the peak of his powers and the pressure of having to tick the box of his first championship has allowed him to relax more this year.

But relaxation should not be mistaken for complacency according to the Dutchman, and if that is the case he will take that as a signal he no longer has the same motivation to win.

“I think it would be wrong to relax,” Verstappen told reporters, quoted by Crash.net.

“So many things can still go wrong or right. I think the intention for us is we want to win more races this season.

“That’s how we approach the remaining races. Not only winning but we want to be consistent, we don’t want to retire.

“We had our little issues at the beginning but we’ll see how competitive we will be.

“It’s not allowed. That can happen when you stop racing. If that would be the case, it’s also time to stop racing because you don’t want it enough anymore.”

Heading into the final nine races, Verstappen has the chance to surpass the record of the number of wins in a single season which currently stands at 13, shared between Michael Schumacher in 2004 and Sebastian Vettel in 2013.

While he has not put his full focus on achieving such a feat, he is not taking his eyes off the prize in front of him in the short term.

“If it happens, it would be great,” he said. “It’s another five wins, I think, to be equal.

“I think so far this season, it’s always been super-close for a win anyway between Ferrari and us. I don’t think it would be very easy to beat that record.”

How far can Max Verstappen go this year?

Verstappen has shown this season his racing acumen and ruthlessness while in the lead is as strong as ever. Bar Austria, once he has led a race he very rarely relinquishes control.

His P7 finish at Silverstone is the only time he has finished off the podium this season after taking the chequered flag, such has been his consistency this year.

After writing off his title chances when Charles Leclerc took a 46-point advantage over him after the Australian Grand Prix, Verstappen has appeared untouchable at times this season.

When it comes to the race win record, six wins in nine races could very plausibly be on the cards if Red Bull keep up their current performance levels, combined with the edge they have shown over Ferrari in terms of race strategy this season.

He says the record is not his main priority but should he wrap up the title with races to spare, he will surely be motivated to chase that accolade if it is possible to do so.