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Ben Hunt: Max Verstappen’s total dominance in record-breaking F1 season shows Red Bull star is no ‘cost-cap champion’

MAX VERSTAPPEN’S 14th win of the season set a new Formula One record for most victories in a year.

It also takes his tally to 34, putting him sixth in the list of GP winners — just seven shy of Ayrton Senna fifth-place mark.

Max Verstappen broke the record for most wins in a season
Verstappen celebrated the achievement on the podium alongside Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez

He has also broken the record for most points in a single season, set by Lewis Hamilton in 2019.

And he has single-handedly helped Red Bull stop Mercedes’ most dominant run in F1 history when it comes to the constructors’ championship.

That’s all rather good for Red Bull, but incredibly disappointing for F1’s motorsport director Ross Brawn, who introduced new rules this season to level the playing field.

Red Bull have won 16 of this year’s 20 races, and we still have two more to go in Sao Paulo and Abu Dhabi.

Verstappen says he doesn’t care about statistics and I remember Hamilton saying the same in the past.

He said: “It is just an incredible season for the team. I never thought I’d be able to win 14 races in a year.

“I was never really interested in stats. I just live in the moment. I just try to do the best I can every weekend.

“That for me is the most important — that I go home and can say I maximised everything.”


Quite surprisingly, given his achievements, the magnitude has been lost in a row over the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP and the cost-cap row.

He has been hammered on social media and dubbed ‘cost-cap champion’ plus the bitter fallout with Sky F1 and subsequent boycott over pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz’s comments.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner feels that Verstappen’s performances this year have gone unnoticed.

He said: “What we’re seeing this year with Max, we are witnessing something very special.

“I sometimes think his achievements don’t receive the plaudits they should.

“He has won the most Grand Prix in a year, within 20 races, and two sprint races — and he’s not won all of them from pole.

“He has had to fight and race for a lot of those victories.

“It is an absolutely outstanding year, from a driver who is absolutely at the top of his game.

“The level of consistency is incredible.”

It is difficult to disagree but surely it is only a matter of time before he finally gets that recognition, especially if he keeps on breaking records.


LANDO NORRIS wants a crackdown on punters in the exclusive area during Grand Prix weekends.

In Mexico, Max Verstappen was soaked in beer and Pierre Gasly had his bag rummaged through.

Norris said: “If people are aggressive and grab you all of the time, biff them out.

“I love having the fans in here, especially when it’s kids. Kids are kids, that’s cool.

“It’s more the older people. There’s just not as much respect for personal space as there should be.”


IT has come to something when Ferrari are offering Mercedes race strategy advice.

The Italian team are now famous for their bungled calls on tyre choices and pitstops.

Yet Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto reckoned Mercedes got it wrong for a second race in a row.

He said: “They maybe have lost the last race by not choosing the right tyres.

“So I think it’s not only down to us somehow to make different choices or making mistakes.”


PIERRE GASLY will walk a seven-month disciplinary tightrope if he is to avoid a one-race ban.

The Frenchman, who joins Alpine next season, had a penalty point added to his licence for an incident with Lance Stroll, meaning he has collected five in a month.

Two more points before May next year would see the AlphaTauri driver cop a ban.


MY hero of the weekend was Alice Hedworth, Red Bull communications manager who looked after Sergio Perez’s media commitments in his home GP.

Mexican Perez, the country’s most popular sports star, was mobbed at every turn with poor Alice dragged along in the melee — quite literally — with his 15 security guards!


MARC MARQUEZ says Honda are already running late with their Moto GP title challenger for 2023.

The Spaniard, 29, said: “We are delayed and Honda know we’re in delay, so we will have one chance.

“I hope to test something interesting in Valencia because what you try in Malaysia in February is the bike you will race.”

FORMULA E will beat F1 by being the first to race in South Africa next year.

The all-electric series will visit Cape Town in its 17-race schedule in 2023.

It also kept Africa as part of the tour after dropping the Marrakesh ePrix.

THE Mexican Grand Prix was the 20th race this season and there are two left.

There will be 24 races in 2023 so it was good to hear Toto Wolff say F1 plans on enforcing a two-week winter break to help ease extra pressure on staff.

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