By Alan Baldwin
12:54 PM UTC – November 6, 2023
LONDON (Reuters) – Max Verstappen’s 17th win of the Formula One season rewrote the record book and established the triple world champion as the most dominant driver the sport has ever seen over the course of a campaign.
Until Sunday’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix at Interlagos, the highest win percentage for a season was the 75% of late Italian champion Alberto Ascari who won six out of eight world championship races with Ferrari in 1952.
Verstappen’s tally so far from 20 races puts his percentage at 85%, and even if he does not win the remaining two rounds of the season in Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi, he will still finish above 77%.
Not that the Dutch 26-year-old was paying too much attention to the statistics when asked how much the numbers resonated and motivated him.
“It’s not about that. I mean, it’s not something that when I joined Formula One, I need to have a 75% win record over a season you know,” he told reporters.
“These kinds of things come along when everything just works really well. I feel good in the car, the car is very competitive, and the team barely makes mistakes as well. So then you can get a season like we are having.
“For me it’s more about just enjoying the moment and trying to maximise every single opportunity.”
Verstappen took a then-record 15 wins in 2022 but an unprecedented run of 10 successive victories from May to September and a new ongoing streak of five in a row could mean he ends this year with 19 out of 22 — an 86.3% win rate.
His 19 podiums for the year so far are also a record, even if seasons were far shorter in the old days, as are the 524 points scored, although scoring systems have also become far more generous.
He has led 922 laps, another record for a season, and counting.
The gap between him and team mate Sergio Perez, second in the standings, is 266 points — way more than the record margin of 155 points between first and runner-up set by Sebastian Vettel with the same team in 2013.
That same gap is also bigger than Vettel’s entire points haul (256) in winning the 2010 title.
Verstappen has led the championship since the Spanish Grand Prix of May 2022 and is guaranteed to end the season with a record run of 39 races in a row as leader.
He has won more times (11) from pole position in a season than any other driver, after last year setting a record for most wins in a season not from pole (nine).
Red Bull’s 19th win of the campaign equalled Mercedes’ 2016 record and broke their rivals’ record from that same season of most laps led (1,055).
“We’re talking about one of the best drivers in Formula One ever, in one of the most dominating cars,” commented McLaren’s Lando Norris, second on Sunday, when putting his own performance into context.
“One of the most dominated years in Formula One history.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge