Formula One

Verstappen expecting closer title fight in 2024

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Max Verstappen says that competition will inevitably be a lot tighter in 2024, and that Red Bull can’t expect to dominate in anything like the same way they did this year.

Verstappen won 19 of the 22 races the just-completed season including a record run of ten back-to-back wins, an 86 per cent win ratio, with two of the remaining victories going to his team mate Sergio Perez.

The only race not to be won by Red Bull all year was Singapore, where Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz emerged triumphant ahead of Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton, when Verstappen was only fifth.

Red Bull duly won the constructors championship in Japan, while Verstappen confirmed his third world championship in Qatar with six races (including the Qatar GP itself) still to go.

But even though Verstappen signed off in Abu Dhabi looking as dominant as ever, the Dutch driver insists that things will be naturally much closer for Red Bull next year.

“Realistically, it can’t be much better than what we have achieved,” Verstappen told the media last week. ““But I think it’s not always about trying to win 20 races.

“It’s also about just trying to find improvements within yourself and within the car,” he explained. “If that means we’ve improved the car and can fight for the championship again but only win 10 races, that’s also fine.”

Red Bull finished 2023 with a 451 point advantage over their nearest rivals Mercedes and Ferrari who were separated by only three points after the final race, showing how close everyone else had been.

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19 celebrates with doughnuts at the end of the race in parc ferme.
26.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Race Day.
- www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

“The competition around us has been quite up and down. One weekend it’s this team, and the other week it’s another team,” he said. “Next year, people are learning a lot with this new regulation so naturally [everyone] will be quite a bit closer.”

Verstappen said that this level of success in the sport was so ephemeral, it was especially important to enjoy and celebrate success while it lasted.

“Once you’re winning a few in a row, you want to keep that momentum going and the pressure is always on, you always want to do well,” he acknowledged.

“[But] it was never about trying to break all these kind of records, just trying to do the best I could every single race weekend and enjoy it as well,” he insisted.

“These kind of great moments don’t come along that often as well. It was a very, very good year,” he added. “This season we won a lot as a team, but also it’s been really enjoyable to work with everyone inside the team.”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner admitted he was astonished by Verstappen’s winning margin over the rest of the field this season.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing celebrates winning his third World Championship in Sprint parc ferme with Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal and Adrian Newey (GBR) Red Bull Racing Chief Technical Officer. 07.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 18, Qatar Grand Prix, Doha, Qatar, Sprint Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

“He just continues to hit new levels,” Horner said. “It’s just phenomenal the heights that he’s these hit: the consistency, some of the races, even with adversity coming from the back of the grid after issues in qualifying.

“There been some stunning performances this year and he just continues to raise the bar,” he continued. “It’s just great to see how he works with the team, with his engineering team. Max is leading that from the front.”

Horner echoed Verstappen’s comments that the field will inevitably tighten up next year.

“You’re always learning in this business,” he explained. “With stable regulations, we know that the field will converge. We’ve seen that at different points during the course of the past year,”

“We have to improve, we have to keep evolving,” he pledged. “All aspects of our RB19 are being looked at to evolve into RB20 and hopefully make it even stronger.

“I’m sure that’s what our competitors will be looking to do.”

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