Verstappen compares 2023 F1 title with 2021 Abu Dhabi controversy

Max Verstappen is just the 11th F1 driver to win three drivers' championships


Max Verstappen insisted he’s enjoyed all of his Formula 1 titles equally despite clinching the 2023 drivers’ championship in less chaotic and contentious circumstances than his 2021 and 2022 triumphs.

Verstappen won his first title at the hugely controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and then only found he’d his second crown in his post-race interview at the 2022 Japanese GP.

At the 2023 Qatar GP, Verstappen was assured of the title as soon as Sergio Perez crashed out of the sprint and was asked whether that experience was different to his previous wins.

“I think it’s more about, when you look at the performance of the years,” Verstappen told the media. “Because in 2021, people always talk about the last race, but I think a championship is won over the whole season, right? The same in 2022. So yeah, a little hiccup in Japan that takes a few more minutes to find out if you’re champion or not.

“For me, those kind of things, they don’t really matter. I think I analyse my performances race after race and not only the race; how I handled leading up to run plays and stuff, or what I did off the track.

“And the same this year and that’s why I think this year is performance-wise, definitely the best one. The first one has been the most emotional one. The middle one… is now the middle one.”

Verstappen: Competition not an issue

Max Verstappen’s special helmet for the 2023 Qatar GP after securing the drivers’ championship in the sprint race | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Verstappen added he doesn’t mind the lack of competition across the 2023 season. He was pushed all the way by Lewis Hamilton in 2021 and then had to deal with the early-season challenge of Ferrari the next season, but Red Bull have dominated 2023.

However, Verstappen has repeatedly said he enjoys cruising to grand prix victories as much as race-long battles.

“Well, of course for F1 you would like to see more competition,” Verstappen said. “But for me, I don’t need any other team or like a team-mate to get the best out of myself.

“I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself to always try and be the best I can, try to prepare in the best possible way. That’s what I enjoy and that’s the only thing that I really look at.”

Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for and in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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