Max Verstappen, the massively talented Belgian-Dutch Formula 1 driver, lit up racetracks around the world in 2023, breaking records and racking up achievements almost every time he suited up for the powerhouse Red Bull Racing team. The world champion capped an already fantastic year by taking home the crown at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi in November, Formula 1’s traditional season-ending race – it was the driver’s 54th career win, and it rocketed Verstappen to third place on the list of most races won, behind only Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton, the British sensation who currently drives for Mercedes, has a stunning 103 wins and is still actively racing.
The season-ending race that brought Verstappen his latest victory featured plenty of excitement and several seriously daring challenges by Charles Leclerc, the dynamic Ferrari driver who came in second. Verstappen clearly has the Yas Marina Circuit’s number, as the 2023 victory in Abu Dhabi was the driver’s fourth win in a row at the racetrack. He took home his first world championship back in 2021 at the event after beating Hamilton in a race that ticked all the boxes when it came to excitement and controversy.
Winning the season-ending race was only one of Verstappen’s many achievements in 2023. The year also saw him become the only driver in history to be at the head of the pack for more than 1000 laps, 1003 to be exact – Alain Prost and the legendary Aryton Senna as a team managed something similar back in 1988 while driving for McLaren.
Abu Dhabi was also Verstappen’s 19th win of the season, which isn’t bad at all considering that he only stepped on the track 22 times. He ended up on the podium on a stunning 21 occasions. Thus, Verstappen also holds the record for most wins in a single year. Other records the phenomenon garnered this year include the highest points total and most consecutive wins. Sebastian Vettel’s nine consecutive win record stayed on the books for almost ten years until Verstappen put paid to that achievement with ten consecutive trips to the top of the podium in 2023.
Verstappen has emerged to become one of the most talented drivers in Formula 1 history, and the Red Bull-Verstappen combination has absolutely dominated the competition for the past several years. Verstappen won the Driver’s Championship in 2021 and 2022 with Christian Horner’s powerhouse team, and 2023 saw him earn his third consecutive crown, placing him solidly in the ranks of the sport’s elite – Sebastian Vettel, Juan Manuel Fangio, Schumacher and Hamilton are the only other members of the club. He locked up this year’s Driver’s Championship in October after coming in second at the Qatar Grand Prix, but that didn’t slow him down in the next races.
Red Bull Racing secured the prestigious Constructors’ Championship with Verstappen’s victory at the Japanese Grand Prix back in September, but first and second place remained up for grabs until the very end of the season. The barely-there point difference between Mercedes and Ferrari for second place in the Constructors’ Championship added to the drama in Abu Dhabi. After a tough battle, Mercedes finished second in the standings, thanks to a strong third-place finish by George Russell.
Verstappen debuted in Formula 1 in 2015 when he was 17 years old, making him the youngest person ever to drive for a Formula 1 team. One year later, in 2016, Verstappen won the Spanish Grand Prix while driving for Red Bull, making him the youngest driver in history to take home the laurel at a Formula 1 Grand Prix race. He celebrated his 26th birthday this year, leaving him a great amount of time to extend his number of trophies.
Formula 1 is set to light up the Netherlands in 2024 for those who are interested in experiencing the power, precision and speed of world-class motorsports up close and in person. The Formula 1 Heineken Dutch Grand Prix will hit Zandvoort in August of next year.
Written by Lorre Luther