Amidst persistent rumours about Sergio Perez’s future, clinching second overall in the drivers’ world championship in Las Vegas marks a historic first for Red Bull and stands as a significant silencer to the speculation.
Reflecting on this milestone, Toto Wolff, Lewis Hamilton’s team boss, expressed indifference towards the P2 or P3 positions. “Completely uninteresting to me,” he stated to Sky Deutschland. “It’s about winning. It makes a difference for the employees, including financially, but I don’t really care.”
The constructors’ championship, however, remains a hotly contested arena, with Mercedes leading Ferrari by a mere 4 points as the season heads to its finale in Abu Dhabi. The Las Vegas race saw Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finish just two seconds behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, sparking Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur to observe: “Verstappen unbeatable? They are dominating, but we are not that far from reaching them,” Vasseur remarked. “What we have to think about now is the next race and Mercedes, as they are only four points from us and I’m sure we can catch them in the constructors’ standings,” he added.
Ralf Schumacher, a former F1 driver, observes the tightening competition with a keen eye. “They’re under a bit of pressure,” he noted, referring to Red Bull. “The other teams are getting closer.” Verstappen’s victory in Las Vegas, however, was more than just a win; it was a testament to his burgeoning legacy. Matching Sebastian Vettel’s record of 53 career victories, he now trails only behind the greats – Ralf’s brother Michael Schumacher (91) and Lewis Hamilton (103). “Definitely based on age and talent, he can do it,” Ralf Schumacher said. “The only question is whether he wants to keep racing for so long. But I suppose another question is whether he will always have such a good car. I think that will be the case next year, but he then needs to take good care of Adrian Newey so that it continues like this,” he added, with a knowing smile.
Dr. Helmut Marko, a key figure at Red Bull, was keener to – for once – shift the spotlight somewhat from Verstappen to Perez’s remarkable recovery in the race. “Let’s start by talking about Checo. He was last after the first lap and drove sensationally,” Marko remarked. “But the one-two is what we really wanted and it was the only thing missing from our perfect season,” he said to Servus TV.
It was left to Jos Verstappen, Max’s father, to reflect on his son’s extraordinary achievements with a mix of pride and awe. “All these records and victories – I don’t think we’ll ever see them being surpassed,” he mused in Las Vegas. “Max doesn’t care about records at all, but I’m quite proud of it, yes. Things cannot get much better than they are now. But let’s see how it goes on.”