Max Verstappen explained that being challenged by rivals on the track is not required for him, as he challenges himself to chase perfection in every race anyway.
Formula 1 is very much experiencing the era of Verstappen, the Dutchman and his Red Bull team piecing together a campaign of record-breaking dominance in F1 2023.
Red Bull won a remarkable 21 of the 22 grands prix held, 19 of those going Verstappen’s way as he stormed to a third World Championship title, while Red Bull secured a sixth Constructors’ crown.
Max Verstappen does not need rivals bringing the fight
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz took full advantage of a rare Red Bull off-day to claim victory at the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix, but otherwise Verstappen faced very little competition after team-mate Sergio Perez’s title push faded fast following his two victories early in the campaign.
Sarcastically put to him by Channel 4 at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that he loves to be challenged, Verstappen replied: “It was fine this year. I enjoyed it more than anything else.”
Verstappen was then pressed on whether there is any part of him that wanted the chasing pack to step up their game.
It was a fierce battle for ‘best of the rest’ as Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin all jostled for that P2 spot, which seemed to jump from team to team with each passing race weekend.
Verstappen explained though that he does not need to have another driver pushing him to keep his standards up, as dropping them would only frustrate himself and his colleagues.
“I don’t think it works like that for me,” said Verstappen on the idea of wanting to be challenged. “I mean, every single weekend that I’m in, I am challenging myself.
“I want to be perfect. I know perfection, like being absolutely perfect, doesn’t exist, but I try to be as close as I can every single weekend.
“And even when I won the title, I could have come here and just cruised around, but that’s not how I am, that’s not how the people around me are.
“Because I know that if I enter a race like that, I’m annoyed with myself but I know also people that work with me get very annoyed, so that’s just not how we go into it.”
Verstappen heads into F1 2024 as favourite to turn the Red Bull RB20 into his fourth title-winning challenger, though the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren all have set their sights on stopping him.