Sebastian Vettel defends Max Verstappen against ‘boring’ claims in F1 dominance run

Thomas Maher
Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen. Bahrain March 2022

Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen share a joke. Bahrain March 2022

Sebastian Vettel, now an F1 spectator, says fans of the sport should learn to appreciate the high standards achieved by Max Verstappen and Red Bull.

The four-time F1 World Champion is spending 2023 as an interested fan of the sport, having opted for retirement after a long and successful career in which he won his titles during a period of dominance with Red Bull between 2010 and ’13.

Vettel’s win record of 38 Grand Prix wins with Red Bull fell to Max Verstappen earlier this season, with the Dutch driver set to clock up his third consecutive title as he sets about eclipsing Vettel as the team’s most successful driver ever.

Sebastian Vettel: Fans should learn to enjoy perfection

With Vettel the man behind Red Bull’s last dominant period in the sport, the German driver was asked about how he felt now that he’s watching the same thing unfold while observing the sport as a fan.

Speaking to media, including PlanetF1.com, during his outing at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK last weekend, Vettel said that seeing a team and driver unlock such a high level of performance is something that should be appreciated by those who get to witness it.

Additional reporting by Sam Cooper

“Well, I think every year is different,” he said.

“Every phase of when somebody was able to dominate, or win a lot, is probably different.

“So I don’t think there’s much point in comparing because yes, it was a different time when I was racing – it’s different now.

“But what you do need to learn to enjoy, I think, is just the perfection.

“It’s just the constant level of consistency and the skill of getting it right from the whole team every weekend.

“Red Bull has won every race so far, which we definitely did not achieve when I was dominating!

“But yeah, hats off to that, obviously, it’s an incredible achievement when it comes to engineering the car and coming up with such a strong car that is able to beat everybody else at every track.”

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Sebastian Vettel: Max Verstappen’s dominance is no ‘walk in the park’

Vettel said that, while things look easy for Verstappen as he racks up win after win on his way to the title, experience tells him that it’s much more difficult than it appears externally.

“From the driver’s point of view, you have to give it to him – [Max is] doing an incredible job,” he said.

“He’s an incredible talent, and he’s not doing any mistakes. I mean, Sergio [Perez] is not a bad driver but do you see how quickly things can go wrong?

“Some Sundays, it might be easy to get through and, other Sundays, it might be harder.

“But obviously, if you’re always at the front because you’re doing a very good job, then people might turn around and say ‘it’s boring, and it’s easy’. But, actually, it takes a lot more than that.”

He pointed to the example of other dominant World Champions, who could also back him up on the fact that their periods of dominance were not easily earned.

“I’m sure Lewis [Hamilton] would agree as well, in all the years that he won, that it wasn’t a walk in the park,” he said.

“Ultimately, going back to me, to Michael [Schumacher], to Mika [Hakkinen], to all the people that maybe had that era – it wasn’t a walk in the park and it was probably when you were at your best and enjoying the work and commitment with the team.”

But does the former Red Bull driver believe the team has what it takes to win every single race on the calendar – a feat that has never been achieved in the sport, despite good attempts from McLaren in 1988, Mercedes in 2016, and Ferrari in 2002.

“Nothing is impossible,” he said.

“With the car that they have, there is a chance yes, but it’s also a lot more to it – it’s reliability, first lap incidents, the freak stuff that can happen in a race.

“But again, if you’re on top of your game, you learn to control these things more and more. You have this sort of 360 view of what’s going on in a race.

“So yeah, it’s probably possible. It was probably possible last year, it’s possible this year. It was possible for Mercedes for a couple of years. We haven’t seen one constructor winning all the races – ‘1988 was very close, so we’ll see!”

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