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Max the Great

12 months ago

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Writer:

Edd Straw | Motorsport journalist

Date:

2 March 2023

Max Verstappen starts the 2023 Formula 1 season as the clear title favourite, not only because of last year’s dominance, but also Red Bull’s advantage both on single-lap and long-run pace across three days of pre-season testing in Bahrain. He’s odds-on for a third consecutive World Championship.

It is by no means a foregone conclusion that the 25-year-old will make good on this given there’s an arduous 23-race season to come, but should he do so, he will become only the fifth driver to win three titles in a row. This would put him in illustrious company alongside Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. It’s company he emphatically belongs in, even if he were to retire tomorrow.

The great drivers each have their own unique characteristics, particular both to themselves and the era in which they operated. But they share one strength, which is not so much stunning speed per se, but the capacity to deploy it across a wide range of conditions and situations. This is what makes the debate about whether the driver or car is responsible for on-track success overly simplistic, as it’s always a combination of the two. Verstappen, like all the greats, can make the best car better.

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