DOHA — Max Verstappen crowned a season of domination by securing his third Formula One world championship and said it was the best yet.
The Red Bull driver won his first in highly controversial circumstances after a battle with Lewis Hamilton went down to the wire in 2021, the second with 15 wins in 22 races and the third with six grands prix to spare.
“This one is the best one,” he said after finishing second in a 19-lap sprint race in Qatar as his sole title rival and team mate Sergio Perez crashed out after 11 laps.
“The first one was the most emotional one, because that´s when your dreams are fulfilled in F1.
“But this one has definitely been my best year for consecutive wins and stuff like that, the car itself has been probably in the best shape as well. So for me, this one is probably the one I´m the most proud of in a way, because of the consistency,” he added according to Reuters.
Verstappen won a record 10 races in a row from Miami in May to Singapore last month and has taken 13 victories from 16 grands prix.
Until Singapore, when he was fifth, he had been second in the two races he had not won.
Asked how many more championships he could win, Verstappen said it depended on the package but he definitely had “quite a few years in me to be able to operate at my best.
“We’ll see how long that is, to be honest,” he added. “I think it’s more about how long I want to be here. That’s different.”
The Dutch 26-year-old said it was a very proud moment for him, his family and the entire team.
“I don’t know how long this is going to last,” he said. “I’m enjoying the moment and I think that’s also very important. I achieved more than I could have ever even dream of.
“I’m loving the moment, we’ll see where we end up but its already way more than I ever though I could achieve. It’s perfect.”
In a telling moment, in a season in which he has crushed all rivals, Verstappen paused when asked where he had felt most pressure.
“It’s a good question,” he replied, before suggesting his home race in Zandvoort and racing on slicks in wet conditions while feeling the expectation of the crowd.
It came in at the end of lap two, enough time for Russell to take the lead, before Logan Sargeant also spun his Williams into the gravel a lap later and again triggered a safety car deployment.
The safety car came out a third time to deal with Perez’s accident, leaving five laps of racing at the end and not enough time for Verstappen to catch Piastri.