Max Verstappen reflects on the F1 2023 title win as he ranks it as the best one while talking about moments from the year.
Having sealed the F1 2023 title already, Red Bull’s Verstappen is a relaxed man on the grid. He secured his third world championship in successive seasons in style with five races remaining. There was some challenge from Sergio Perez but not for long.
The Mexican seemed at his best at the start of the year but his chances dwindled as the season progressed making Verstappen a clear winner. The Dutchman terms it as the best of the lot considering the way he has driven this year making no mistakes.
He knows that 2021 is an emotional win and people only discuss the final race but he feels 2023 as the best yet still noting how he has won it. Talking more, he looks back at testing when he drove the car and how it felt plus adding on where he gained momentum.
Verstappen also credited Honda’s part in helping him win while talked about the races and pole positions that he felt good.
Q: Of your three titles, where do you rank this one?
Where third title ranks –
Verstappen: “This one is the best one. I think the first one was the most emotional one, because that’s when your dreams are fulfilled in F1. But this one is definitely… It has been my best year. Yeah, well, so far, you know, consecutive wins and stuff like that, and the car itself has been probably in the best shape as well. So for me, this one is probably the one I’m most proud of in a way because of consistency.”
Winning third one without dramas after first two –
Verstappen: “Well, it has nothing to do with that to be honest because I think it’s more about when you look at the performance of the years, because in ’21, people always talk about the last race, but I think a championship is won over the whole season, right? The same in ‘22. So yeah, a little hiccup in Japan that takes a few more minutes to find out if your champion or not. For me, those kind of things, they don’t really matter. I think I analyse my performances race after race and not only the race; how I handled leading up to run plays and stuff, or what I did off the track. And the same this year and that’s why I think this year is performance-wise, definitely the best one. The first one has been the most emotional one. The middle one… is now the middle one.”
Feeling with any competition outside team –
Verstappen: “Well, of course for F1 you would like to see more competition, but for me, I don’t need any other team or like a team-mate to get the best out of myself. I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself to always try and be the best I can, try to prepare in the best possible way. That’s what I enjoy and that’s the only thing that I really look at.”
Feelings when driven RB19 for first time in testing –
Verstappen: “It’s always difficult to say. I mean, it always felt nice. And I thought it had good balance. But you never know what the other teams have come up with over the winter time. And we really expected it to be close into Bahrain. But I think we were all positively surprised with how good the car was there. But that’s one track. And, of course, when you go to the next tracks, and you can see, you know, the cars always been quick, and especially in the race, like we always had really good race pace, I think that’s, of course, always very promising. And yeah, throughout the year we did… I think we had a lot of great results in tough conditions as well, where it was easy to make a mistake as a team, even if you would have a dominant car. But yeah, I think for most of the races, we just did an incredible job.”
When the title came in your hands –
Verstappen: “Well, not until this point, right? But no, of course the momentum was growing and race after race the gap was getting bigger. So I was just, you know, looking at myself, just trying to go through every single weekend trying to get the best out of it. That for me at that time is more important than dreaming about the title, because dreaming doesn’t really bring you anywhere. It’s about the effort and work you put in to try and achieve your goals.”
Felt pressure this year –
Verstappen: “It’s a good question. I don’t know. I mean, it has to also do with track conditions or whatever. For example, the race in Zandvoort, when you’re driving on slicks and it’s raining, and I know of course I normally enjoy driving in the wet, but I also know that I’m leading the championship and if I go off and I’m stuck, you know, you lose a lot of points. So naturally, you’re always driving a little bit under the limit, but that can be, in a way, dangerous as well. So probably when I was out there on slicks, you feel a bit pressured. Sometimes there are people behind you that are a bit faster, because they have nothing to lose. So it’s a very different mindset as well that you’re in when you are fighting for a championship.”
Highlights of the season whether win or pole position –
Verstappen: “It’s a few. I think my win in Miami, I really enjoyed. Spa, Zandvoort, but also Suzuka, like, winning the Constructors’ for example with the team there was fantastic. It’s difficult to really pick one to be honest. In terms of pole, probably Suzuka. Yeah, I’ve had a few. I mean, OK, maybe it didn’t count but the one in Spa probably that I enjoyed – those kinds of conditions where you really have to pull it out of the bag. But yeah, in Suzuka the car was on rails. It was unbelievable to drive. And, you know, while driving, I was smiling and that’s quite rare in a qualifying lap.”
Honda’s contribution –
Verstappen: “It’s massive. It’s the chassis together with the engine that allows you to achieve these kinds of things. I’m very happy to work with Honda. I always have been. They are amazing people, they’re always super polite but also super motivated and always willing to listen and of course willing to improve. And so yeah, they will always have a special place in my heart even when, of course, they leave at the end of ‘25. But for now, let’s just enjoy the moment together. And yeah, I’m very proud also for them, from where we started as a team together and where we are at now. I think we can all be very proud of that.”
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