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Max Verstappen

Verstappen reveals surprise challenger in recent F1 domination

Max Verstappen has won 23 of the last 28 races in F1 - and doesn't feel the need for outside validation.

Verstappen Miami
To news overview © XPBimages

Max Verstappen feels the "constant challenge" with himself to extract Formula 1 performance for Red Bull is a greater push than anything a rival could offer. 

Verstappen has won 38 of the 50 races since the adoption of the ground-effects rules for 2022, and looks set to clinch his fourth straight world championship this term following four wins from the first six races.

During that time, Verstappen has not been challenged on a regular basis by any one driver with Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris and Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez all emerging as the nearest challenger for a number of races before falling away. 

In 2024, Verstappen's average winning margin has been 15.602s, with Perez finishing behind his team leader for each of the four wins but whilst Verstappen has appeared to be able to take things easy, it is not an idea he agrees with.

"The first five races were not as straightforward as people try to make out," Verstappen replied when asked by RacingNews365 if tougher challenges lay ahead for both driver and team. 

"For so long now, from the outside, it seems like there is no challenge - but I am challenging every single weekend to try and get the most out of it. 

"For me, it is never boring, because I don't need another team or driver to give me that challenge - I am in a constant challenge with myself to try and get the best out of things.

"It is not like I am missing something or that I'm waiting for something to come to suddenly feel more appreciation or for more validation for what we are doing."

A closer battle

The two races Verstappen has not won heading into the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola came in Australia, where he recorded a DNF and in Miami, where he finished second to Lando Norris. 

Fears grew after the Bahrain Grand Prix that Verstappen would dominate 2024 as he had in 2023, when he won 19 of 22 races, scored 575 points and led 1,003 laps, shattering the previous records. 

But a sizeable upgrade for McLaren in Miami and one for Ferrari at Imola has given hope to the idea that Red Bull can be reeled in and the gap being closed on the world champions - something he agreed with. 

"It is always about the attention to detail, where you can make the difference and some weekends are better than others," he added.

"But I do think that from the start of the year, the other teams are closer compared to last year.

"As a team, we've had a good start to the year, where we did quite a lot of things right, and of course we had a DNF [in Australia] which cost us a lot of points, but I do expect this season to be closer in general than last year."

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