The Dutchman enjoyed an early finish to the 2022 contest, where his dominant form through the second half of the season meant he clinched his second drivers’ crown at the Japanese Grand Prix.
This was a stark contrast to his first title in 2021, which came down to a thrilling finish in Abu Dhabi and ended in controversial circumstances over the FIA’s handling of a late-race safety car restart.
Verstappen said, in the style of that 2021 title battle with Lewis Hamilton, that he couldn’t deal with the stress of such close competition all the time.
speaking to The Guardian, said, “You can’t have that drama every year, for sure. It’s not good for me, it’s not healthy for anybody on the team, both teams.”
But as F1 prepares for a possible 24-race calendar in 2023, Verstappen is aware that the stress and strain on the drivers has every chance of increasing.
Asked if he was prepared for what might be around the corner, Verstappen said he wasn’t worried about the complications of a bigger challenge, or that he needed to be prepared for bigger difficulties.
“If you’re not ready, then you better stop already, right?” he said: “I think we are all runners and we love racing.
“Of course it’s good to have a season like I had last year, but it’s also good to have a season like I have this year. It would just be very difficult if you had that every year, the year I had last year.
“But that doesn’t really happen in Formula 1 either, so it should be fine.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, Sergio Pérez, Red Bull Racing
Photo by: Erik Junius
Verstappen’s closest rival, Charles Leclerc, agreed that there was no choice but to be ready for bigger and more intense seasons ahead.
“I think we are all set for longer seasons,” he said. “I hope it’s tight. It’s always good to have a fight to the end. But yeah, I’m ready for more races and hopefully a longer fight.”
While Red Bull dominated this year once it overcame its RB18’s weight disadvantage, Verstappen doesn’t think it’s a given that his margin over the opposition will hold in 2023.
“I think it will be closer,” he said. “People are understanding the cars a lot more and over time all the teams will get closer.
“We know over the winter that we really have to keep pushing and trying to find the performance, and not just the performance – possibly understand the tires even more, because the tires will change a bit for next year. So yeah, let’s see how we’re going to handle all of that.”