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F1 Season Review: A season like no other for Max Verstappen

It was an incredible display in 2023 from Max Verstappen, who put together arguably the greatest single F1 season of all time, utterly annihilating the opposition in the process

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Max Verstappen once again showed his brilliance during the 2023 F1 season, breaking multiple records and showing why he is one of the greatest the sport has ever seen.

Verstappen got on the podium in 21 of 22 races (Credit: Bob McCaffrey via Getty Images)

The Dutchman won his third consecutive drivers’ championship, bringing him level with the likes of Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, and Ayrton Senna.

Verstappen truly set a new standard in 2023, redefining what it means to be a dominant force in Formula 1, winning 19 of the 22 races across the year.

It was a season like no other, showing levels of dominance that nobody thought to be possible and that will most likely never be seen again.

It was a nearly flawless season for Verstappen, who let nothing get in his way on his path to becoming world champion for the third successive year. The driver and car were truly at one, allowing the Dutch driver to get the most out of the outstanding RB19.

What went well?

Simply put: everything.

One of the highlights of his season was the Spanish Grand Prix, where Verstappen claimed the third Grand Slam of his career. The Dutchman started the race from pole, finished with the fastest lap, and led every lap of the race.

Another stand-out performance from Verstappen was at the Miami Grand Prix. It was just the second time F1 has raced at the circuit surrounding the home of the Miami Dolphins and Verstappen remains the only driver to have won at the track thus far.

The Dutchman started the race from P9 having not set a time in Q3, leaving it late to go out onto track before Charles Leclerc crashed his Ferrari to bring out a red flag. This effectively ended the session before Verstappen could get a time on the board.

Verstappen would waste no time in making his charge to the front of the grid, finding himself in the podium positions by lap 14, with just two cars ahead of him. Having started on pole, Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez had the lead, but strategy would favour the three-time world champion, who lasted 45 laps on his hard tyres.

It was a second win in Miami for Verstappen (Credit: Dan Istitene via Getty Images)

This meant that Verstappen had 12 laps on a fresh set of medium tyres to catch Perez, who was just over a second ahead of him when he left the pits. Ultimately, the tyre advantage was too much for the Mexican driver as his teammate powered through to claim victory by over five seconds.

The most impressive part of Verstappen’s season was the consistency he displayed throughout. The Dutchman became the first driver to win ten races in a row, beating the record set by former Red Bull man Sebastian Vettel.

Verstappen faced his biggest challenge in the final of those races, at Monza, as he had to battle past the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, who had nicked pole position by just 0.013 seconds. The Spaniard did his best to keep the Red Bull behind, using the straight-line speed of the Ferrari to keep him ahead of the world champion until lap 15 when the Dutchman made a daring move around the outside of Sainz on the Curva Grande.

How many records did he break?

With such an impressive season, the list of records that were broken is quite extraordinary. His most consecutive wins record has already been mentioned but there are several more.

He broke his own record for the most victories in a single F1 season, getting four more than the 15 he won in 2022. By doing this, he also managed to get the highest win percentage ever seen in a single season, beating a record that stood since 1952 with Alberto Ascari – a mammoth 86%.

Verstappen after his tenth straight win (Credit: ANP via Getty Images)

Verstappen also became the first driver to win three races in the same country during a season, winning three in the United States: Miami, Circuit of the Americas, and finally Las Vegas.

The icing on the cake came in the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi, where he sealed the record for the highest percentage of laps lead during a season, leading an extraordinary 1003 out of 1325 across the season.

A total of 22 records were broken by Verstappen across the season. There is a reason that many ran out of words to praise the Dutchman, and that’s partly why.

How could he have done better?

Really, he couldn’t have done much better. He was beaten by his teammate twice; one time on merit, in Baku, and the first time due to a reliability issue in qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix that caused him to start in the midfield.

Outside of those races, in which he finished P2 both times, he only weekend that things didn’t go so well for the Dutchman was in Singapore – the one time this season he didn’t step on the podium.

It was a tough day in Singapore for Red Bull (Credit: Clive Mason via Getty Images)

Having qualified back in P11, it was a struggle from the start for Verstappen and Red Bull, who got their set-up and strategy wrong across the weekend.

After an early safety car, the Red Bulls stayed out to try and gain positions, hoping for another safety car so that they could get their stop in. Another safety car wasn’t looking likely though so both cars came in, losing time on the rest of the field who got their stops in under safety car. Unfortunately for them, a virtual safety car came just laps after their stop, meaning that the team lost out on time and positions on track.

Verstappen did manage to recover to P5, bringing home some good points for the team, but the race would bring his win streak to an end and remain a mystifying anomaly in the most dominant F1 season of all time.

Verdict

It really is hard to find words to summarise what Verstappen achieved in 2023.

Yes, many F1 fans did get bored of him winning all of the time, but maybe we need to look at it from a different perspective. That was the most amazing season from an individual we’ve ever seen and it would be naïve not to appreciate the talent he has.

Verstappen is special, truly one of the best we’ve seen in the sport and he’s still got years left in the tank. It’s unlikely that he will be able to get anywhere near what he has achieved this year, and it would be unrealistic to expect him to.

Many will look back at 2023 as one of the least exciting years in F1 history, but it was a season in which we all saw a man at one with his car. The year we saw what unstoppable meant. The year we saw Max Verstappen touch greatness.

Season Rating: 10/10

Featured Image Credit: @max33Verstappen via X

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