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Red Bull has blocked Max Verstappen from trying his hand at the controls of a MotoGP bike.

At the recent end-of-year Honda ‘thanks day’ at Motegi in Japan, the reigning back-to-back Formula 1 champion met up with MotoGP star Marc Marquez and sat on his Honda two-wheeler.
“I love watching MotoGP and I like that there are so many teams capable of winning the race. I think it’s fantastic,” Verstappen, 25, is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“These guys are crazy. It’s fascinating to see how strong they are, working the whole body. I would like to try one of these bikes for the speed they have on the straight, the power the bikes have.
“But my team won’t let me,” the Dutchman smiled.
“Of course, if I broke my leg now, I would time to recover,” Verstappen smiled again.

When suggested that he might consider simply riding a bike slowly enough to guarantee his safety, the Red Bull driver added: “I know myself well.
“If I tried it, I would push. The problem is if something goes wrong.”

It was an incredible season for Max Verstappen as he secured his second F1 drivers’ championship. What records did he break in 2022?

Most wins – 15
The first record Max Verstappen managed to break in 2022 was the number of wins in a season.

Verstappen claimed an astonishing 15 wins in 22 races, two more than Sebastian Vettel (2013) and Michael Schumacher (2004).

Granted, there are more races in 2022 compared to 2013 and 2004, but it was still a remarkable achievement, particularly as Ferrari had the faster car up until the Belgian Grand Prix.

Most points in a season – 454
With more races than ever before, it’s probably no surprise Verstappen was able to claim the record for the most points scored in a single season.

With 22 races alongside three sprint events, Lewis Hamilton’s record from 2019 of 413 points was always going to be threatened.
Max Verstappan

Max Verstappen broke Hamilton’s points tally with two rounds to go.
How long will it last?
In F1 2023, there are 24 races scheduled with three more sprint events added to the calendar.

Points deficit overturned – 46

It’s easy to forget that Verstappen and Red Bull endured a tricky start to the year.

READ MORE:
David Coulthard: ‘Only an idiot would say Max Verstappen’s success is only because of the car’

Two DNFs in the opening three rounds put Verstappen on the back foot – 46 points behind Charles Leclerc after the Australian Grand Prix.

He managed to turn it around in dominant fashion, claiming the title by 146 points in the end.

Wins from different grid positions – 7

Verstappen took wins from 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, 10th and 14th on the grid.

His best wins of the year came at the Hungaroring, where he started down in 10th.

Similarly at the Belgian Grand Prix, slicing through the field from 14th to dominate at Spa.

Most wins from outside pole position – 9 

With Ferrari dominating Saturdays, Verstappen was only able to take seven pole positions in 2022.

It didn’t deter him as he took nine wins when not starting from pole position, one more than Hamilton managed in 2019.

David Coulthard has said that anyone who claims Max Verstappen’s success is solely down to the car is “an idiot.”

The Dutchman has been in dominating form in the last two seasons. Winning 25 races in two years and amassing 854.5 points, 227 more than any other driver.
But despite, the Red Bull man still has his detractors. Maybe point to the conclusion of the 2021 season or the minor cost cap breach while, just as Lewis Hamilton has been told, some claim it is all to do with the car rather than the driver.

One man who does not believe that is Coulthard who suggested that anyone who though Verstappen’s success was 100% due to the car was a “f**king idiot.”

“Just as Lewis doesn’t need nine World titles for me to consider him one of the greatest drivers in the sport, Max doesn’t need three to be considered one of the best,” Coulthard told Formule1.nl.

“Max is already one of the greats. You would also have to be a f**king idiot to claim that he only achieved this ‘because he was in a good car.’

“After all, none of his team-mates have been able to measure up to him. Max is a beast on the track, a winning machine who doesn’t give a s**t about what we have to say or what anyone else has to say. He’s incredible.”

Max Verstappen has shown he is more than just the car beneath him

The notion that Verstappen is only now successful because of the RB18 is somewhat fanciful considering his achievements in the sport.

Take a time when Mercedes were at their clinical best. Who was it that was the one non-Mercedes driver to win more than once? Verstappen.

The Dutchman has crossed the line first in at least two races in every season since 2017, a record that no other driver can currently claim to have done. There would also be few to argue that the Red Bull car was anywhere near better than Mercedes’ until 2021 at the earliest.

Coulthard also makes the point that if was purely down to the car, then Verstappen’s team-mate would have had just as much success than him. Perez’s two wins to Verstappen’s 15 in 2022 suggests otherwise.

The driver vs car debate has long ranged and will continue to do so but if there is one man who has the CV to show he is more than just the machinery beneath him, it is Max Verstappen.

Formula 1 are aiming to modify the regulations on shortened races, following the confusing conclusion to the Max Verstappen’s title challenge.

When Verstappen crossed the line at Suzuka in the rain-shortened race, it was assumed that he was not the 2022 Formula 1 World Champion.

Even after Charles Leclerc copped a five-second time penalty by cutting the final chicane on that last lap and gaining an advantage that would drop him to third and promote Sergio Perez, it was still not enough.

As the race had not reached 75% of its scheduled distance needed for full points to kick in following the two-hour rain delay, the expectation was that the sliding scale of reduced points would be referred to – this having been refined in the aftermath of the abandoned 2021 Belgian Grand Prix.

It was believed that Verstappen would be left one point short of the total he required to seal the title and that the coronation would roll on to the United States two weeks later.

However, a quirk in the sporting regulations meant that because the race hit the three-hour hard stop window Grands Prix must be completed within, full points were dished out.

F1 and the FIA are now taking steps to ensure that this scenario cannot happen again.
Max Verstappen

What was the quirk?

During the off-season, the rules were re-written ahead of 2022, with a new set of points to be awarded in shortened races, provided intervals of 25%, 50% and 75% of the planned race distance were reached.

This is covered in Article 6.5 of the sporting regulations.

However, this sliding scale would only be applied if a race was “suspended in accordance with Article 57 and cannot be resumed” – this being the article that covers the suspension of a race and it not being able to be restarted.

Following the red flag in Japan, the race was restarted and ran to the time-enforced chequered flag. By definition, this meant full points were awarded.

According to RacingNews365.com’s sources on the F1 Commission, the line “a race is suspended in accordance with Article 57 and cannot be resumed” is set to be removed from the regulations.

This means that the three columns of points can be awarded as intended in 2023 onwards in similar situations.

It is intended that six points shall be awarded to the winner if they complete more than two green flag laps, but less than 25% of race distance, rising to 13 for 50% and 19 for 75%.

If no green flag racing can take place, or less than two laps are completed, the podium ceremony and TV interviews are set to be cancelled.

Max Verstappen competed in the recent round of the virtual Le Mans series.
With the Formula 1 winter break in full flow, the majority of the drivers have been seen enjoying some downtime, unlike Max Verstappen who it seems can’t get enough of being behind the wheel.

Given how intense the 2022 Formula 1 season was, it’s no surprise that it hasn’t taken the drivers long to get far away from the sport.

Lewis Hamilton has been spotted at fashion events and also in Japan driving a Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R, whilst his former team-mate Valtteri Bottas has been sharing his adventures in Australia on social media.

Max Verstappen, on the other hand, has been driving in the sim world rather than laying back on a holiday somewhere.
Max Verstappen

The double World Champion is well-known to be just as fast in the virtual world as he is in the real world, with the 25-year-old having taken part in several big sim races over the years.

For several years now, Verstappen has competed for Team Redline, whom he was in action for again on Saturday in the penultimate round of the virtual Le Mans series.

The penultimate round of the championship took place at Sebring, where the race consisted of 500 miles.

With that in mind, the race consisted of 134 laps, with Verstappen having driven the final stint of the race for Team Redline.

After starting the race in second, the #1 Team Redline car competing in the LMP class fell to third immediately, after dropping a place at the opening corner of the race.

When Verstappen took control of the car, he was quickly hunted down by none other than the Mercedes Esports team, who had GT driver James Baldwin at the controls.

After a good duel, Verstappen lost third to Baldwin following a mistake at the first corner of the circuit, after running wide and clipping the gravel.

Verstappen running wide saw Baldwin slip up the inside of the Red Bull star, due to the British driver carrying more speed than the imperious Dutchman.

In the end, the 25-year-old had no choice but to settle for fourth, seemingly the best that himself, Max Benecke, and Jeffrey Rietveld could manage.

The final round of the virtual Le Mans series is in fact the Le Mans 24 Hours, which Verstappen has competed in multiple times in the past.

It is scheduled to take place on the 14th-15th January next year, with double points up for grabs.

Max Verstappen ended the season 146 points clear in the F1 drivers’ standings.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown has refuted suggestions that Max Verstappen’s dominance of the 2022 F1 season was a ‘turn-off’ for fans of the sport. Despite new regulations being introduced, designed to make the sport more competitive, Red Bull’s pace was unmatched as Verstappen cruised to his second drivers’ title by a mammoth 146 points.

The Dutchman won an unprecedented 15 of the 22 Grand Prix races on offer, and the magnitude of his season already makes him the bookies’ favourite to triumph again next time around. That’s despite an end-of year resurgence from Mercedes, capped by George Russell winning the penultimate race in Brazil.

The campaign didn’t come without controversy for Red Bull though, with the FIA confirming Christian Horner’s team had breached the 2021 budget cap in 2021 by £1.8 million. A number of rival figures reacted cycnically, including Brown, who wrote a letter to the FIA accusing the Constructors’ champions of “cheating” by breaking spending regulations.

But despite his public fall-out with Horner, the McLaren man doesn’t think Verstappen’s title win was a negative notion for the sport. Asked if he thought the season had been a ‘turn off’ for F1 fans, the Englishman argued the campaign had produced intriguing races.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen celebrates his second title win in Abu Dhabi. (Image: Getty)

“Given the dominance of Max, it doesn’t feel like it’s been a boring season, even if the results on paper, you would think it would be boring,” said Brown, via motorsport.com. “But I think all the races have been very exciting.”

And Brown added that the new regulations that signified F1’s new era have been justified. “It certainly seems like the racing has been better,” he continued. “I think everyone was concerned that cars were going to look the same. They certainly don’t. There’s a lot of different concepts. I think the new regulations always need refining, but I think we got it pretty right.”

McLaren’s own performance did seem to suffer in 2022, with the team fifth in the Constructor’s standings, finishing behind Alpine. Third place for Lando Norris in Emilia Romagna represented their only podium finish.

“[We had] lots of learning. Lots of ups and downs,” he said. “Not as competitive as we were last year, but I think we’re a better racing team this year. We’re operationally more sound.”

Mika Hakkinen believes it will not be a “straightforward” task for Max Verstappen to maintain the level of dominance he showed in 2022, given the chances others will have to close the gap.

Verstappen earned his second title in crushing fashion in the end, winning a record 15 races out of 22 compared to just two for Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez in the same machinery.

Even though Ferrari’s F1-75 was more than a match for Red Bull’s RB18 for most of the season, Verstappen rarely looked troubled in the lead of races and ultimately cruised to title glory with races to spare, eventually taking top spot by a whopping 146 points – or almost five race victories’ worth of points.

It will be incumbent on the rest of the field to catch up to the Dutchman’s benchmark as a result of his form throughout the year, then, and fellow two-time champion Hakkinen believes chances are there for others to close the gap, given the new regulations in Formula 1 were introduced in the hope of eventually bringing the field closer together.

“He has done a great job with a great team, with the great engineers and designers, including Adrian Newey, who I used to work [with] when I won multiple World Championships,” Hakkinen told Sky Sports at the launch of the new F1 Arcade in London.

“Regulations of Formula 1 are different now than it used to be my time or used to be three, four years ago, so it’s giving a lot of opportunities to other teams for success.

“So I don’t think it’s so straightforward that way he will continue dominating, even [though] he is a great driver. I’m confident we will see some surprises, but who [from]? I don’t know.”

When asked by Sky Sports F1 in Abu Dhabi if he thought 15 wins would be on the cards this season, Verstappen himself responded quickly: “For sure not.

“Already after last year, I said if I can have a season like this again, that would be amazing. But yeah, again, incredible, but also the whole team effort, it’s been really enjoyable to be part of.

“Of course, the goal is always to try and be better, even though I know that is hard to achieve.

I think that attitude should always be there, even if you’re not a champion, you know. At the end of the day, you’re trying to always push for more. I mean, it’s never good enough.”

Lewis Hamilton has said he will “adapt” to racing against Max Verstappen in future and, while he says “I’m sure we’ll grow” while in combat with each other, he is not expecting much to change.

After a year-long title battle in 2021 which saw multiple incidents between the Mercedes and Red Bull drivers, the pair had largely been away from each other on track in 2022 through Verstappen often being well out in front of the field in his RB18, while Hamilton struggled by comparison.

But the two did end up in wheel-to-wheel action at Interlagos at the penultimate round of the season in Sao Paulo, with Hamilton defending from the Red Bull driver at the Safety Car restart.

Max Verstappen threw his car to the outside of the first part of the Senna S, which subsequently gave him the inside line for Turn 2, but the two made contact at the apex as they jostled for position.

Both were able to race on, albeit Max Verstappen needing to pit for wing damage, and Hamilton recovering through the field to take second place behind team-mate George Russell – with the Dutchman given a five-second penalty by the stewards for being found to be predominantly at fault for the incident.

Hamilton gave a withering assessment in the aftermath of the crash, simply saying after the race: “What can I say? You know how it is with Max.”

The seven-time World Champion hopes to see things improve between them in the future, but is not quite convinced yet.

“Most likely,” Hamilton told Sky in Abu Dhabi when asked if he thinks his rivalry with Verstappen will have more flashpoints like that in future.

“I think I’ll adapt. You’ve seen in previous years that I try to avoid [contact] in scenarios.

“I’m sure we’ll grow, both sides will grow and improve hopefully so we don’t have experiences like we did in the last race [Sao Paulo], but I wouldn’t hold your breath.”

Former Formula 1 driver and current Sky Sports analyst Martin Brundle believes Verstappen has a “different set of limits” when racing Hamilton specifically, due to his status and long-standing success in the sport.

Hamilton himself also believes his place in the sport has put a target on his back over time, which is a part of drivers wanting to prove themselves against the most successful in Formula 1.

“I think yeah, you’re probably right,” Hamilton said in agreement with that sentiment.

“I remember when I first got to the sport and your target is the guy that has the most championships.

“It was Fernando [Alonso], then it was Kimi [Raikkonen], because Kimi was one of the best drivers here, and then it was Seb [Vettel] – so I think it’s natural.”

Read more: Adrian Newey has spotted a crucial clue in the approach to sidepod design

Bernie Ecclestone has said F1 fans owe Max Verstappen a thank you for bringing them what they wanted – a pure racer.

Verstappen is already on his way to breaking plenty of Formula 1 records but despite his undoubted talent, he is a figure that produces a polarising response from fans.

There are very few who claim to be apathetic towards the Dutchman, with those who love him and hate him in equal measure. But despite this, these opinions are largely based solely on his on-track actions which is not always the case for a driver.

He may be a top-level racing driver but does not fit the stereotypical mould of one. There are few pictures of him out partying or driving expensive cars to nearby Monaco casinos, for instead the Dutchman spends his free time either at home with family and friends or competing in sim racing competitions.

This personality trait makes former F1 chief Ecclestone believe the sport and fans owe the two-time World Champion a thank you.

“Formula 1 should thank Max Verstappen,” the 92-year-old told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

“Max is a racer. He does what he has to do – he just races. The fans have wanted to see someone like that for a long time.”

While Ecclestone did not mention him by name, it could be assumed he was referring to Lewis Hamilton whom the former F1 chief has previously criticised for pursing other interests away from the sport.

Last year, Ecclestone suggested Hamilton had lost some motivation and only returned to the sport because “he probably had a look at the clothing range and music but realised it’s not as easy to make money there as it is in Formula 1”.

Ecclestone also praised Verstappen for reigniting Dutch interest in the sport and said everyone in his country is behind him.

“The Netherlands is so proud of him and everyone is behind him,” Ecclestone said. “That’s the sole reason why we are back at Zandvoort. I haven’t visited the last two races but hopefully it has all improved a bit there, otherwise it wouldn’t be good.”

In terms of predicting Verstappen’s future, Ecclestone said he was hoping the 25-year-old would go on to break the world title record of Hamilton and Michael Schumacher.

“That depends on his car, but if Red Bull have their act together I don’t see why he can’t keep winning,” he said. “Whether Max will ever break the record of seven world titles? Who knows. Let’s hope so.”

A year after declaring the intensity of his 2021 fight was not sustainable in the long run, Max Verstappen says if drivers are “not prepared” for the long fight then “it’s better to stop already”.

Last season, Verstappen went up against Lewis Hamilton in an all-out fight for the World title, the two recording 14 1-2 results in the 22-race campaign.

As momentum swung back and forth the gloves came off with the protagonists involved in two big crashes, at Silverstone and Monza, before Verstappen clinched the title with a last-lap-of-the-season pass on Hamilton in Abu Dhabi.

He later told The Guardian that level of intensity was not sustainable.

“You can’t have that drama every single year, for sure,” he said. “It’s not good for me, it’s not healthy for anyone in the team – both teams.”

This season, Verstappen had a far simpler march to a second successive title, the Red Bull driver P1 after round six and from there on never relinquishing it. He won 15 of the year’s 22 races.

Next season, with Ferrari and Mercedes both vowing to put up a tougher fight, Verstappen will have 24 races in which fans hope there will be a three-team battle for the World title.

He was asked in Abu Dhabi, in light of his comments one year prior, is he ‘prepared for a back and forth title over the course of 24 races’.

He replied: “If you’re not prepared, it’s better to stop already, right? I mean, I think we are all racers and we love racing.

“Of course, it’s just that it’s nice to have a season like I had last year but it’s also nice to have a season like this year. It just would be very tough if you have that every single year, the year I had last year.

“But that also doesn’t really happen in Formula 1, so it should be okay.”

The same question was put to Charles Leclerc, runner-up in the 2022 Drivers’ standings.

“I think we are all prepared for longer seasons,” said the Ferrari driver. “I hope it will be tight. It’s always nice to have a fight until the end.

“But I’m prepared for more races and for a longer fight, hopefully.”

All eyes on 2023 and the potential for a three-team fight

After the thriller that was 2021, this year’s title fight turned out to be a damp squib although nobody is blaming Verstappen or Red Bull for that.

Rather, it is on Ferrari and Mercedes to raise their game and join the fight.

Ferrari tried but faltered, the Scuderia pretty much engaging in a game of ‘what can go wrong will go wrong’ as their strategists tripped over themselves and their engine proved unreliable.

They are adamant, though, that lessons have been learned and that they will be back stronger next season – but whether that is under Mattia Binotto’s leadership or not remains to be seen.

As for Mercedes, their onion of a W13 bounced more than it raced, leaving George Russell and Lewis Hamilton lagging behind the Red Bulls and Ferraris.

They made inroads, huge inroads it can be said, in the latter part of their season with their late-season upgrades seemingly doing the trick. But again in Abu Dhabi, the bouncing was back and all that hard work seemed to be undone.

If Mercedes can curb the porpoising, expect them to be in the thick of it next season. If Ferrari can cut out their mistakes, they should be there too.