Max Verstappen seen during a photo shoot of the kit launch of Red Bull Racing in London, United Kingdom in 2023. // Red Bull Racing / Red Bull Content Pool

F1: Verstappen’s dominance speaks of greatness, enjoy the ride (Update)

–by Mark Cipolloni–

The greatest drivers in the world are fastest in the wet because a wet, slick track, takes away any advantage your car may give you and puts the performance down to almost 100% driver skill.

On Saturday on a very wet Montreal circuit, Max Verstappen proved once again why he is perhaps the best driver to come along in the last 50 years.

Power-sliding his car through the corners with exact precision, we were witnessing a master at the top of his game.

Unfortunately, Verstappen is so good, he’s making F1 look a bit boring at the moment.  Even his teammate, Sergio Perez, in equal equipment, cannot get close to him.

However, what do you suppose F1 do to stop his domination?

Ask him to slow down to give the other 19 inferior drivers a chance?

I say let him go and enjoy the ride.  Greatness only comes around every so often, and some people never get to witness it in their lifetime.

This is a special moment in motorsports history.

Qualifying 1.3s clear of all the other drivers, Verstappen explained why he feels so comfortable in the rain.

“Yeah, I don’t know. I think in general it helps if you are confident in the wet but that only – I guess – happens when… it’s a lot of feeling as well, knowing how to drive it, what lines to take, it’s difficult to fully explain why that happens, but it’s something you have been learning since a little kid.

“I remember back in the go-karting days my Dad was literally standing on the track telling me where to drive in the wet because I think he, back in the day, was also quite decent in the wet.

“Just learning and then at one point understanding yourself what is going on and what you have to do, how to drive fast in the wet.”

June 6, 2023 

–by Mark Cipolloni–

This article is supposed to be about Max Verstappen, but first I think it’s important to explain the difference between a constructors series like F1 where Verstappen drives, and a ‘spec series’ that Americans are primarily familiar with.

Some people try to compare the number of passes in a spec series like IndyCar to Formula 1 where each team is required to design and build their own race cars each year.

In a series where each team designs their own car, it inevitably leads to more disparity and less close racing versus a spec series such as IndyCar.

It is a nature of the beast.

NASCAR manages its series much like IndyCar – as essentially spec racing – to save cost and to enable closer racing.

Start of the Detroit GP with 27 spec cars painted in different colors. There are two engines – Honda and Chevy, but their performance levels are kept almost equal by the nature of the rules.

IndyCar wasn’t always a ‘Spec’ Series

IndyCar wasn’t always a spec series, but it evolved into one because of economics – there were no longer enough fans and high TV ratings to draw the sponsorship needed like it was in the past.

That is ok, we are not here to dictate how a racing body wants to manage their competition. Fans will choose what they like most.

We hear complaints from many IndyCar fans that they miss the days when teams would have a new chassis from Reynard, Lola or Penske every year and Mercedes was battling Ford, Toyota and Honda for engine superiority.

Or how about the days Andy Granitelli brought the Novi to Indy? Or the turbine cars? IndyCar used to be about who could build the best car within the rules – just like F1 is today.

1967 Indy 500 – Parnelli Jones and his STP Granatelli crew and turbine car. Photo courtesy of IMS

Many current IndyCar fans miss those days, and I do too.

But somehow today’s IndyCar fans are OK with a spec series, I guess because they have no other choice.

And the hard core fans defend it vehemently.

And that’s OK too.  Whatever wets your whistle.

Who can forget when Colin Chapman brought his Lotus to Indy and won in 1965 with Jim Clark. Many fans long for those days and IndyCar was more popular because of it. Photo courtesy of IMS.

If one measures a racing series purely on how close the competition is, NASCAR and IndyCar should be the most popular forms of motorsports in the world.

They’re not… a wide margin.

Globally, Formula 1 gets 70 million TV viewers every race. NASCAR is in the 2-4 million range and IndyCar is lucky to get 1 million except for the Indy 500.

Large numbers of TV eyeballs = big sponsor dollars = big money to do big things.

What Makes F1 so Popular?

Motorsports is a team sport, always has been and always will be.

And that is no more accurate a description than in F1 where the people who design the race cars are every bit as important as the drivers.

There are two championships within F1, one to crown the champion driver and one to crown the champion constructor.

Every team in F1 is a constructor.

Every team in F1 team fields 2 cars designed and built by their in-house personnel. Every year they design and build the best car they can.

Because all the cars in F1 are different, it’s hard for the average fan to know which driver is really best .

But historically, the best F1 drivers get hired by the best teams.

The best teams want to win.  A lot of money and prestige is at stake.

As a result, historically in F1 there are spells where the best driver with the best car dominates.

In F1 a driver is judged by:

  1. How he does against his teammate in the same equipment
  2. His race craft – ability to pull off the near impossible passes without touching the other car
  3. How many times he crashes
  4. How many mistakes he makes
  5. How fast he is on all types of circuits
  6. How fast he is in the rain

Schumacher, Senna, Hamilton, Stewart, Clark, Verstappen – all the greats – outperformed their teammates in identical equipment.

We are seeing that now with Max Verstappen in the same Red Bull equipment as Sergio Perez. Sheer domination.

If Perez was the lead driver for Red Bull and if Verstappen chose a different career, we would not be having the conversation about how dominant the Red Bull car is.

Perez would not win the majority of the races like Verstappen does, he just isn’t good enough.

But put a good Red Bull car in the hands of a driver with Max Verstappen’s skill level, and it’s sheer dominance.

And this inevitably leads to criticism of F1 that “we already know who is going to win the race before it starts.”

Given we have seen this sort of dominance before, and yet F1 is so darn popular, what do fans like about the sport vs. a closer racing spec series?

Formula 1 fans are intrigued by the team aspect and engineering genius of the sport.  They watch with interest to see how good a car each team can roll out each year, and how they develop it throughout the season.

Teams are bringing upgrades every race, and F1 fans are interested in the new design ideas and how well they perform.

Good F1 designers like Adrian Newey are very popular because fans know how valuable they are.

But of course F1 fans also have a favorite driver and how they perform on race day carries even greater importance.

F1 has always been about the driver and the engineering ability of the team’s design team. F1 has always been structured that way.

They must be doing something right to get 70 million fans watching on TV each race.

In Verstappen, we are witnessing greatness – enjoy the ride.

The title of this article is about Max Verstappen, but I wanted to first explain how drivers are measured in F1 when all the cars are not ‘spec.’

Back to the topic at hand.

Many F1 fans call Lewis Hamilton the greatest F1 driver of all time because he has the most race wins.

During his heyday, when he was winning the bulk of his races driving an Aldo Costa designed Mercedes, fans said he was making F1 boring.

It happens.

Is he too good for the sport’s own sake? Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 04, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Was Hamilton the greatest ever? The table below tells a different story, a story that has yet to fully play out.

OK, you don’t like Verstappen winning almost all the races, but enjoy the ride because we may be witnessing the greatest driver of all time.

As a race fan that should be admired, not criticized.

  Running Tally of Race Wins
Age Hamilton Wins Verstappen Wins
18 0 1
19 0 3
20 0 5
21 0 8
22 4 10
23 9 20
24 11 31
25 14 40 and counting
26 17 TBD
27 21 TBD
28 22 TBD
29 33 TBD
30 43 TBD
31 53 TBD
32 62 TBD
33 73 TBD


Verstappen his last 25 races, he won 18 of them….amazing consistent domination and a Red Bull team that is performing at an elite level.

P1 – Imola
P1 – Miami
P1 – Barcelona
P3 – Monaco
P1 – Azerbaijan
P1 – Canada
P7 – Silverstone
P2 – Austria
P1 – Paul Ricard
P1 – Hungary
P1 – Spa
P1 – Zandvoort
P1 – Monza
P7 – Singapore
P1 – Suzuka
P1 – Austin TX
P1 – Mexico
P6 – Brazil
P1 – Abu Dhabi
P1 – Bahrain
P2 – Saudi Arabia
P1 – Australia
P2 – Azerbaijan
P1 – Miami
P1 – Monaco
P1 – Barcelona

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