Formula 1 journalist
Formula 1 journalist
There isn’t much at stake for him in the nineteenth Grand Prix of the Formula 1 season at the Circuit Of The Americas in Austin. Max Verstappen has his own second world title already in and can equal a record of Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel with four races to go: the most Grand Prix victories in a season, thirteen.
“It’s possible and it would be good if it works, but I’m not really concerned with things like that. We’ll see,” says the 25-year-old Dutchman, almost unaffordable this season. “What we have achieved this year is amazing.”
Whatever happens on the track in Texas: Verstappen’s stats are impressive anyway. The Red Bull Racing driver has won twelve of the eighteen Grands Prix this year. And if he misses out on victory in Austin, he still has three chances to knock Schumacher and Vettel off the books, but Verstappen’s goals are bigger.
Still a lot to gain
“I want to win the remaining four races,” Verstappen said. “I love this song, won a great race here last year and I’m really looking forward to finishing the season in style. In addition, it is important that we take the title from the builders. Already capping off the best season here in America with both titles, that’s what we’re looking for. We just need a few more points.”
“It will be good if we do well here,” concludes the brand new champion dryly.
If Verstappen wins the races in America, Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi, he will end 2022 with sixteen victories. Unheard of, but double world champion Fernando Alonso (Alpine) thinks it’s a realistic scenario.
“I also experienced that I already had the title well before the end of the season,” said the Spaniard. “It’s very relaxed. Your race weekends then become much more relaxed. The pressure is off. I think it will be a bit easier for Max.”
“It is indeed quite relaxed now,” confirms Verstappen. But in his eyes, little change. “When I’m in the cockpit, I want to win always and everywhere. Also here and now. That won’t change with the extension of the title. I think Fernando might be a bit easier, but in the end I also depend of the car.”
It was special for Verstappen to extend the title in Japan, he is particularly proud of the streak he has achieved with his team this season. “If you look only at performances, this season has been even better than 2021. But the first title gives the same feeling as the first victory. The first one is and always will be very special.”
Not a big party: “Little time to celebrate”
The extension of the title has not yet resulted in a big celebration, says Verstappen. “I still had a few obligations on my schedule and I had to do simulation work, so there wasn’t much time. I invited friends and family over one night to celebrate together. That was it. .”
There was no big party at Suzuka either. Due to bad weather, the race was not only cut short, but the flag also fell an hour and a half later than planned. “There was little time to celebrate together,” says Verstappen, who won the title after the race by a time penalty for Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc and the full spoils for victory: 25 World Cup points. .
No apotheosis on the track, but a decision by the race management decided the championship. A hangover for the viewer, but Verstappen can’t live with it. “I would never have become champion on the line anyway. It would always have been decided by a penalty or not.”
It was bald. A championship without cheering or shouting on the distorted radio on board. No jubilant team boss Christian Horner: “Max Verstappen, you are the world champion!”
“Christian actually couldn’t compliment me on the in-flight radio. So you missed it, but that’s okay. It doesn’t always have to be on the radio. Now that was after. Much more personal.”
Verstappen received a letter from the king. “Like last year. No, not the same letter with the same text. They write that they watched and appreciated. It is very pleasant to receive such a letter.”
A dark cloud still hangs over Verstappen’s title. Motorsport federation FIA has found that Red Bull Racing in 2021 exceeded the budget limit. A punishment seems inevitable. Various sources in Austin report that the FIA has made Red Bull a settlement proposal. The question is whether the racing team will accept the settlement or appeal.
“It’s something between the team and the FIA,” says Verstappen, who doesn’t have to worry about losing a title. “We are convinced that we have complied with the financial rules. It has been discussed for the past few weeks, but we really mean it. We believe in our own story, but in the end it is not up to me. I am not concerned with and focus on my work on the track.”
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