Max Verstappen says he’s not concerned about where a third title would place him among the all-time greats in Formula 1 because he’s already achieved more than he imagined in the sport.
The Dutchman is going for a third consecutive championship this season, a number that would put him alongside the likes of Ayrton Senna and Niki Lauda as one of only 10 other drivers to have at least three titles. To get three in a row would be even more rare, as only Michael Schumacher, Juan Manuel Fangio, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have achieved the feat, but Verstappen says such statistics don’t motivate him.
“I think I already achieved more than I could ever dream of, so for me I always just try to get the best out of myself,” Verstappen said. “I don’t really think about where I am between all of the all-time greats in terms of championships or wins. I just want to do my job. I of course know I have a contract though 2028, so I want to try and win more with this team — more races and potentially championships.
“But I’ve never really been a guy that likes statistics or whatever. I always want to come out of a race weekend and tell myself that I gave it all and that I really extracted everything out of myself, because then I’m happy. Then also once you stop racing, if I can look back at my years in Formula 1 and say, ‘Did I really get everything out of it?’ and if I did and I can say ‘Yes’ to myself, then I’m happy.”
Verstappen credits the years when he was in uncompetitive machinery with Toro Rosso and his early Red Bull years as key to his development, allowing him to be ready for the championship opportunities that have come in recent seasons.
“You definitely lose more than you win! So it will be hard to catch up on that. But you just have to accept it. You know that Formula 1 is like that — normally there are only one or two teams a year that you can win races with and we know the sport has been like that. So the mentality has always been there.
“(When) I came into Formula 1, I was in the midfield and at the back of the grid; you deal with that because it’s all in your learning process for potentially moving up to a winning team, which luckily I could do. And then once you’re in that position you have to show that you learned in the midfield, all the experience gained and that you can put it on the table and win those races.”
The 25-year-old was challenged by Ferrari early in 2022 and then Mercedes was able to win a race towards the end of the season, but he’s unconcerned about the potential for Hamilton and George Russell to mount a more serious title tilt this year.
“Not worried because we have to focus on our own job. We have to try and improve our car. We know that there are always things we can do better — the same from my side — and that’s the only thing we can control, so that’s what we focus on.
“At the moment it’s difficult to tell (who the biggest threat is). Looking at the last race it was definitely Ferrari still the closest but a lot of things can change, so we’ll see.”