How Red Bull driver Max Verstappen feels about a possible world title win on a Saturday and why he doesn’t dare look ahead to the 2024 Formula 1 season
Max Verstappen will be Formula 1 World Champion in 2023. That is not yet a mathematical certainty, but it is the likely outcome of the drivers’ standings. Because before the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka, Verstappen has a 151-point lead over his only remaining rival, and that is his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez. This raises the question: when and where will Verstappen clinch the championship?
It could be as early as the Qatar Grand Prix in Losail following Japan, and then even under special circumstances: Verstappen could score the necessary points for an early decision already in the sprint on Saturday.
How would he like that? Verstappen says: “I know it will happen. But whether it happens on Saturday, Sunday or a week later? It’s not something I think too hard about. Not even [with which position] I will win the title. “
Verstappen: All that matters is that we win!
But it would “maybe be good” to fix the title win already during a weekend, Verstappen continues. “Then you could have a nice evening and be a bit slower [on Sunday] in reacting to the starting lights.”
In all seriousness, the commanding world championship leader adds, “I’m not really worried about it. We’re having a really excellent year as a team, of course. And I couldn’t care less where it happens, as long as we just become world champions. We don’t have to fix the title five races before the end or at the very end.”
The only decisive factor is winning the world championship in the drivers’ and constructors’ championships, Verstappen explains. “We set that as our goal before the start of the season. And every single person in the team can be very proud of their performance throughout the year and in preparation for us getting to this position in the first place. “
The first “match ball” for Red Bull already in Japan
This position sees the first “match ball” for Red Bull in the constructors’ championship already at this weekend’s Japan Grand Prix. According to Verstappen, success would be “even more special for everyone involved, especially Honda”. Because the Japanese manufacturer is still involved in the Red Bull project and the circuit in Suzuka belongs to the Honda group.
That Red Bull can become world champion so early, “nobody expected that,” says Verstappen. However, he does not want to make any predictions for the following season in 2024: “I always find things like that very difficult. Because everything can look great, of course, but you never know what other people are doing or what they’re going to put on the wheels.”
“I’ve had the feeling a few times that this year is the year. But then the season starts and you’re racing behind. In recent years, though, we’ve been fast from the start. But you still never know if it’s going to be enough.”
That’s why he and the team “don’t want to make any big predictions”, Verstappen says. “We’ll just try to do our thing, improve the car and then see where we are in the first race. “