Max Verstappen has hit out at suggestions that he only wins in F1 because his Red Bull car is superior to the opposition, claiming he makes the most of his machinery “every time” he drives.
Verstappen enjoyed the most dominant season ever produced by an F1 driver, easing to a third successive World Championship with a record 19 wins from 22 races in 2023.
Ten of those victories came consecutively, with the Dutchman unbeaten between Miami in May and Monza in September and beating former Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel’s 2013 record of nine in a row.
Max Verstappen hits back at critics
Verstappen’s historic success has seen him win 44 of the last 66 races since the start of his maiden title-winning season in 2021, with the 26-year-old the overwhelming favourite to take a fourth consecutive title in 2024.
With the RB19 winning all one race in 2023, some have attempted to discredit Verstappen’s achievements by claiming he has lucked into a dominant car.
But Verstappen has snapped back at the notion that the car is behind his success, insisting he consistently performs at his best.
He told German publication Auto Motor und Sport: “I’m not interested in the opinions of others. They don’t know our car. I just try to get the best out of it. And I do that every time.
“I don’t know how dominant this car is compared to previous cars. Nobody knows that.”
With his team-mate Sergio Perez complaining in both 2022 and 2023 that the development of the Red Bull moved away from him as the season progressed, it has been claimed that the team intentionally tailor the car to Verstappen’s needs.
Reports in October claimed that Red Bull even blocked Perez’s request to revert to a previous version of the RB19 as he began to lag behind Verstappen on track.
However, Verstappen has insisted that Red Bull simply build the fastest car possible – and that he is better equipped to adapt to the challenge than Perez.
He said: “I tune the car the way I like it. And the other driver tunes it to suit him. The engineers develop the car to make it faster. And not how I would like it to be.
“It’s the same with the driving style. What is your driving style? I don’t know.
“I adapt to the needs of the car to make it the fastest. That’s the key to being a really good Formula 1 driver. Adapting to what you get from the team.”
Verstappen’s comments come after Alex Albon, who spent 18 months as his Red Bull team-mate in 2019/20, shed light on the three-time World Champion’s unique driving style.
He told the High Performance podcast: “A lot of people say that car is built around him, he’s kind of like the Michael Schumacher of Ferrari, he’s created this team around him.
“Truthfully, the car is what it is, he is very quick. He has quite a unique driving style, it’s not that easy to get along with.
“Everyone has a driving style. I would say my driving style is a bit more on the smooth side, but I like a car that has a good front-end, so quite sharp, quite direct. Max does too, but his level of sharp and direct is a whole different level. It’s eye-wateringly sharp.
“To give people an explanation of what that might feel like, if you bump up the sensitivity [on a computer game] completely to the max and you move that mouse and it’s just darting across the screen everywhere, that’s kind of how it feels.
“It becomes so sharp that it makes you a little bit tense.”