Max Verstappen has already carved a niche for himself in the annals of the sport. With his third consecutive drivers’ title in hand, the 26-year-old’s dominance has been both impressive and, for some, a touch tedious. A recent observation from De Limburger, a leading Dutch newspaper, encapsulates the sentiment: “The fact that even the most ardent fans of Max Verstappen are showing signs of saturation is a sign of the future.”
Looking ahead, Paolo Filisetti of La Gazzetta dello Sport suggests that Red Bull’s technical staff are poised to bolster their lead, hinting at significant improvements in 2024: “The RB20 will see a major aerodynamic revolution. Not even gusts of wind would create any more problems, as happened in the Brazilian GP,” he explains.
F1’s leadership, including FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, are keen to frame Verstappen’s era as one of witnessing a legend in the making. However, Barton Crockett from Rosenblatt Securities warns in Time magazine, “As great as Verstappen is, right now he looks like the biggest risk to the business.”
Even peers like Haas driver Kevin Magnussen express a hint of ennui: “I would get bored of it if I was watching.” But Verstappen himself sees things differently. Comparing his reign to the Michael Jordan heyday, he asserts, “The NBA survived when the Chicago Bulls were dominating. At the time, or even afterwards, people are like, ‘Oh, that was amazing’. If you are a real fan of the sport, you should be able to appreciate a team doing very well.”
Formula 1 has indeed expanded its fanbase significantly since Liberty Media’s acquisition in 2017, attracting new viewers who may lack the depth of knowledge of longtime enthusiasts. Netflix’s “Drive To Survive” has played a pivotal role in this growth. Yet Verstappen remains unfazed by how his winning streak might affect F1’s commercial appeal. He emphasizes the purity of the sport over the spectacle: “I would just keep in mind that the actual sport comes first, instead of the show,” he contends.
With a contract that binds him to Red Bull until 2028, Verstappen is on a trajectory that could see him surpass the legendary seven-title records of Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. When pondering this possibility, Verstappen’s ambition is clear yet tempered with perspective: “Would I like to win seven? Yeah, why not?” he ponders. “But even if I don’t win seven, I know that there’s still so many more things in life than F1. I’m already very happy with what I have achieved.”