Mario Andretti believes Max Verstappen will only get better the longer he continues in Formula 1.
Verstappen, who dominated the majority of the 2022 season, comes into the new year hoping to become only the fifth driver in the sport’s history to win three consecutive titles.
The Dutchman set a new record for the most wins in a single F1 campaign, with 15 victories.
“He showed the quality of his driving quite clearly, in the last couple of years, and it’s only going to get better,” Andretti exclusively told Total-Motorsport.com.
“He’s young enough to be able to perform at the highest level for the foreseeable future. And again, if you’re the competition, you better worry about it.”
Nothing unusual about quieter 2022
2022 saw the arrival of radically different regulations designed to cut costs and produce better quality racing.
Andretti feels it’s not unexpected given the differing designs from each of the 10 teams.
“I think it was a bit of a mix, which is somewhat to be expected; whenever you have a change of regulations that’s so massive, it was a total redesign of the cars,” said Andretti.
“So you can expect that teams will deal with a situation differently. There’s some that had too much downforce, and they were experiencing a lot more porpoising and others, and so on, and so forth.
“But there’s nothing unusual about that whenever you have a huge change. So the season was still as interesting as you want it to be because teams were always continuously trying to solve the situation.”
Andretti shocked and disappointed at Ferrari’s struggles
2022 had started brilliantly for Ferrari with a 1-2 in Bahrain and a victory for Charles Leclerc in Australia, but by the time the F1 circus returned to Europe, Red Bull took complete control.
Ferrari could not fight back as a series of poor strategy calls, driver mistakes, and reliability issues put them further behind, with Mattia Binotto losing his job at season’s end.
Andretti, who enjoyed two spells driving for Ferrari’s F1 and sportscar outfits, was shocked and surprised to see the team struggle but is hopeful they have learned from the mistakes which derailed their 2022 season.
“[I was] shocked and somewhat disappointed; as you can imagine, I’m a Ferrari fan, as you would expect. And, after a dismal season two years ago, they had to pay for something and ride it out,” explained Andretti.
“Now all of a sudden they were, at the top of the game and then unfortunately, to their admittance, I mean that they admitted some mistakes made down the stretch, [particularly on] strategy.
“Some driver mistakes, for instance, maybe for being so much under pressure. Nevertheless, I’m sure that they learned from that. It’s going to be interesting [to see] how the season goes for them.”