Pundits discuss whether Max Verstappen is ‘ruining’ F1 and ‘robbing’ fans

Michelle Foster

2REXP1G Spa, Belgium. 30th July, 2023. Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing wins the F1 Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on July 30, 2023 in Spa, Belgium. (Credit Image: © Beata Zawrzel/ZUMA Press Wire) EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY! Not for Commercial USAGE!

Coming from sixth on the grid to win the Belgian Grand Prix by 22 seconds, his 10th victory of this season, Jack Aiken believes F1 fans are being “robbed” because of Max Verstappen’s success.

Having started his title defence with a P1 at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Verstappen has yet to finish lower than second in 12 races, 10 of which he has won.

While one could say he was made it work for number 10 at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit given he started P6 as a result of a gearbox penalty, that he finished 22s ahead of the other Red Bull shows it’s all a little too easy for Verstappen at the moment.

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His Belgian Grand Prix win was his eighth on the trot, and it saw him extend his advantage at the top of the standings to 125 points over Perez.

At this rate, he’s on course to challenge Michael Schumacher’s record for the earliest championship win after the Ferrari driver lifted the trophy with six races to go in 2002.

But as Verstappen and Red Bull smile all the way to a third successive Drivers’ title, for their rivals and fans it has taken some of the excitement out of the season.

As Harry Benjamin put it on the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast: “How much do we rate Verstappen because he’s almost unrateable, he’s through the roof. He’s almost actually ruining Formula One a little bit because of how good he is.”

Former Williams driver Aiken replied: “Yeah, it’s a debate that comes up every time we have these periods of domination. We’ve seen it before haven’t we, with Hamilton, with Schumacher, with Senna.

“It’s a little bit boring, dare I say. Yeah boring for the rest of us who are watching. We watch this because it’s a sport we love, we love to see the competition, the battles for the biggest prizes in motorsport, but we’re being robbed a little bit of that at the moment.

“But you have to take off your cap to how good a job not just Max is doing but Red Bull as well. They’re clearly building an extremely capable car and Max is clearly getting a lot out of it as you can see from the gulf of difference between him and Perez at the moment.

“So you have to have a level of respect for what they’re doing whilst I think it’s also okay to be annoyed that we’re not getting the battle that we all want at the front.”

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Behind Verstappen and Red Bull, there’s actually been a thrilling four-way battle with Mercedes, Aston Martin, Ferrari, and McLaren all recording two runner-up results at grands prix weekends.

George Russell recently summed it up: “Formula One would be so exciting if Max and Red Bull weren’t here at the moment.”

That was a sentiment echoed by his team boss Toto Wolff who said after Spa: “The second Red Bull is where we want to be. It would have been a fantastic season in that case with close racing!”

With the 1-2 in the Drivers’ Championship, Red Bull are also leading the Constructors’ standings with 503 points to Mercedes’ 247. With 10 races remaining, Red Bull could beat Mercedes’ record for the most points in a single season with the Brackley squad having scored 756 back in 2016.

Read next: Belgian GP driver ratings: Ferrari surprise and Red Bull redemption for Sergio Perez?