Max Verstappen not interested in where he ranks among the Formula 1 greats

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen answers questions in Austin paddock. Texas, October 2022

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen answers questions in Austin paddock. Texas, October 2022

Following his record-breaking 2022 campaign, Max Verstappen says he doesn’t bother with statistics, he just wants to get on with the job of winning “more races and potentially championships”.

Storming to his second Drivers’ Championship title last season, Verstappen set a new record for the most wins in a single season, 15, while also writing his name in the history books for overturning the biggest deficit, 46 points, to win a World title.

And that’s just two of the records he broke last season.

His numbers had former World Champion Nico Rosberg declaring the Dutchman is “already” one of the greatest of all time, “if you look at the statistics.”

Those include 35 race wins, putting him sixth on the overall list for the most F1 victories, 77 podiums, 20 pole positions and two World titles.

This year he’s the favourite for the title, which would him bring him into line with the likes of Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna and Jackie Stewart as a triple World Champion.

The stats, though, mean very little to the driver.

“I think I already achieved more than I could ever dream of, so for me I always just try to get the best out of myself,” he said as per Racer.

“I don’t really think about where I am between all of the all-time greats in terms of championships or wins. I just want to do my job.

“I of course know I have a contract though 2028, so I want to try and win more with this team — more races and potentially championships.

“But I’ve never really been a guy that likes statistics or whatever. recommends

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“I always want to come out of a race weekend and tell myself that I gave it all and that I really extracted everything out of myself, because then I’m happy.

“Then also once you stop racing, if I can look back at my years in Formula 1 and say, ‘Did I really get everything out of it?’ and if I did and I can say ‘Yes’ to myself, then I’m happy.”

‘You definitely lose more than you win’

Verstappen secured his first win in Formula 1 in his second season, P1 at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix for Red Bull.

That was his debut for the Milton Keynes squad, the driver replacing Daniil Kvyat at the senior team at the fifth race of the championship.

It took him more than a year to add a second win to his tally, Verstappen conceding “you definitely lose more than you win, you just have to accept it.

“You know that Formula 1 is like that. Normally there are only one or two teams a year that you can win races with and we know the sport has been like that. So the mentality has always been there.

“(When) I came into Formula 1, I was in the midfield and at the back of the grid; you deal with that because it’s all in your learning process for potentially moving up to a winning team, which luckily I could do.

“And then once you’re in that position you have to show that you learned in the midfield, all the experience gained and that you can put it on the table and win those races.”

In 163 starts, he has 35 wins.

Max Verstappen xpects a tougher challenge this season

Although Verstappen will line up on the Bahrain Grand Prix grid as the favourite, the Red Bull driver expects both Ferrari and Mercedes to put up a tougher fight.

Last season Ferrari dropped the ball when it came to both strategy and reliability while Mercedes’ porpoising W13 left them scrambling for podiums, never mind race wins.

Both teams believe they learned hard lessons that will stand them in good stead this season.

Verstappen says he’s “not worried because we have to focus on our own job.

“We have to try and improve our car. We know that there are always things we can do better — the same from my side — and that’s the only thing we can control, so that’s what we focus on.

“At the moment it’s difficult to tell [who the biggest threat is]. Looking at the last race it was definitely Ferrari still the closest but a lot of things can change, so we’ll see.”