DOHA, Qatar — Max Verstappen said his dominant 2023 championship is the most special of his three so far and warned his rivals he is no less hungry to keep on winning.
Verstappen has utterly dominated this season, winning 13 of the 16 races so far, and wrapped the title up by finishing second in the sprint race in Qatar.
“This one is the best one,” Verstappen said on Saturday evening, after securing the points he needed in the sprint race. “I think the first one was the most emotional one as that’s when your dreams are fulfilled in F1, this one has been my best year.
“So far, consecutive wins and stuff, the car itself has been probably in the best shape, yeah, for me this one is probably, the one I’m most proud of because of consistency.”
Verstappen’s championship had the rare distinction of coming on a Saturday, away from a grand prix on a Sunday, given that he secured the points he needed in a sprint.
The Dutchman will line up for Sunday’s race from pole position, where he qualified on Friday.
When asked if there was a wild Saturday night party planned, Verstappen laughed and downplayed any chance of a hangover: “A few sparking waters tonight but I’ll be here tomorrow!”
He added: “To be honest I don’t know, I can’t… it’s a bit different to some other sports where you can really set out targets, if I keep myself in shape, these things are possible, in F1 it doesn’t always work like that so I live in the moment, and as I said before I’ve already achieved way more than I thought I would.”
After Sunday, Verstappen still has five more races before the year is out – he could surpass his own record of 15 races in a calendar year and move past Alain Prost (51) and Sebastian Vettel (54) on the all-time winners’ list. Once he’s done that, he will only have Michael Schumacher (91) and Lewis Hamilton (103) left to beat.
He said he has no plans to take his foot off the gas.
“Of course I want to win as much as I can, I know that from third to second [all-time] is quite a big gap so I hope maybe in my career I’ll end up somewhere in the middle! Would be nice, depends on the next few races and years.
“I don’t know how long this is going to last, I enjoy the moment, I achieved more than I could dream of or any goals I wanted to achieve in f1 right, I’m loving the moment we’ll see where we end up but it’s way more than I thought I could achieve so it’s perfect.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner agreed Verstappen is unlikely to slow down any time soon.
“He doesn’t leave anything on the table, he wants it all,” Verstappen said. “That drives and motivates the team internally. He is relentless in his pursuit of performance, and he doesn’t just want to win, he wants to dominate.
“I think you see that in any great sportsman, their pursuit of excellence and pursuit of not just wanting to beat but totally dominate their opposition is again a hallmark of what makes him such an exceptional talent.”