Verstappen Finding More Joy in Current Dominance Than 2021 Rivalry

Dr. Helmut Marko is pinpointing the Japanese Grand Prix in September as the perfect stage for Max Verstappen to clinch his third straight drivers’ championship.

That would leave a full six races remaining in the 2023 calendar, illustrating just how much Verstappen has been in a league of his own this season.

“Let’s see if the victories and records will continue until then,” Marko told Osterreich newspaper, “but Suzuka would be a good fit.

“Our engine partner would certainly not mind either.”

Marko further disclosed that an upgrade to Red Bull’s high-performing car is slated for next month, specifically in Singapore.

The situation is nothing short of dreamlike for the 25-year-old Dutch driver, who has a golden opportunity to establish a new all-time record for most consecutive race wins in a season—10, if he triumphs this coming weekend at Monza.

“Of course I’m completely focused on Formula 1,” he said in a new exclusive interview with Sky Italia, “but I’m relaxed and enjoying the moment.

“The goal was always to try to get into F1 which is a difficult enough goal to achieve. But what has happened is more than we could ever have imagined and dreamed of.”

Verstappen concedes that his job has been made somewhat easier this year due to the inability of key competitors Mercedes and Ferrari to elevate their performance levels from 2023 to 2023.

“After last year I thought the other teams could get closer by knowing the regulations better, so we were pleasantly surprised by that,” he said.

“Last year we had too much weight on the car most of the time, and at first this year it took me a few races to push the car to its full potential and fine-tune.

“When I understood how to work with the car it became really, really good to drive.

“Of course we know we have the best car on the grid and we all know how it works in Formula 1 that it is very much related to the performance of the car.

“But I can still be happy with my performance,” Verstappen, 25, added.

As Verstappen began to feel more at ease with his performance, conversely, teammate Sergio Perez has started to find the going tough—sparking rumors that the Mexican driver’s seat could be in jeopardy.

“Many people are not under a lot of pressure they think they can do a great job, but when you have to be solid, not making mistakes, it’s a completely different game.

“So it’s not just about being the best driver but knowing how to handle every situation. Like the pressure. You can have the best car in the world, but you can’t afford big mistakes. You know the world is watching you.”

Speculation is rampant that Verstappen is currently in an almost invincible form.

“I don’t think I am,” the Dutchman insists. “Anyone can be beaten and I know that.”

There’s a belief that Verstappen might relish a more closely-fought contest—similar to his down-to-the-wire fight with Lewis Hamilton in 2021.

“I’m having a lot more fun now,” Max insists.

“This is what I like to do – I like to win, I like to dominate. I’ve wanted to do it since I was very little.”

On a personal note, Verstappen also shared that he finds joy in his life off the track, as one of the rare drivers taking on a fatherly role.

His girlfriend Kelly shares a daughter with ex-F1 driver Daniil Kvyat.

“It’s not really my role that I think of in that way,” Verstappen insists, “but somehow I try my best to try to be in some way.

“But yeah, it’s fine. Of course you never know at first how it’s going to go because it’s all new to you, but now I’m calmer and it’s a lot of fun to have her (Penelope) around.”