Max Verstappen lifted the lid on the biggest moments of his 2023 Formula 1 World Championship triumph, after clinching the title at the Qatar Grand Prix Sprint Race.
Verstappen‘s topped all but 14 competitive sessions over the season, winning 14 races and taking 10 pole positions, so he had plenty of options to choose from after Sergio Perez‘s Sprint DNF handed him the title at the Losail International Circuit.
The lights-to-flag victory was a perfect metaphor for Verstappen‘s dominance over the course of the season, and he was asked to pick his favourite win of 2023.
“It’s a few. I think my win in Miami, I really enjoyed,” Verstappen told the media. “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.”
Verstappen will almost certainly break his own record for wins in a season by the end of 2023, but he’s still not even in the top 10 for most pole positions in a year.
That’s largely down to driver and team opting to focus on race setup and sacrificing some one-lap pace, such as at the 2023 Hungarian GP when Lewis Hamilton clinched his first pole since 2021. However, Verstappen laid down a marker in the race even by his standards, winning by over 30 seconds.
But Verstappen‘s still operating at a pole position rate of nearly 60 percent in 2023, with no other driver on the grid topping more than two qualifying sessions over the season.
“Probably Suzuka,” Verstappen said. “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.”
Verstappen: Dutch GP was highest-pressure moment
Somewhat surprisingly, Verstappen highlighted the Dutch GP as his highest-pressure moment of 2023.
Aside from a few moments like Miami, Baku and Singapore, Verstappen‘s not been under as much pressure as his two previous championships in 2021 and 2022.
However, Verstappen picked his home grand prix triumph as the highlight, when he switched tyres six times in a wet-dry-wet race and won ahead of Fernando Alonso and Pierre Gasly.
“The race in Zandvoort,” Verstappen said. “When you’re driving on slicks and it’s raining, I know 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 you’re always driving a little bit under the limit, but that can be 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.”