Verstappen won’t ‘slack off’ in title home stretch

Max Verstappen and his father have dismissed the idea that the current championship frontrunner will ease off in the final chapters of the 2023 season.

After a seldom-seen dip in Red Bull’s performance in Singapore, Dutch driver Verstappen can’t mathematically clinch his third consecutive drivers’ title at the Japanese GP this weekend.

However, it’s a question of when, not if – something that is probably making Red Bull’s rivals anxious, especially considering Verstappen could find his form again this weekend at Suzuka.

“It’s not my problem what other people are worried about,” Verstappen, 25, told Kronen Zeitung newspaper.

What is evident, though, is that regardless of how Red Bull performs in Japan, Verstappen doesn’t have to go flat out in any of the upcoming grands prix.

“Look, he can’t just slack off,” Jos Verstappen, Max’s well-known father, told Ziggo Sport before the Japanese GP. “He can’t start just putting less energy into it.”

There has been some chatter that Red Bull’s prior dominance may be fading – or perhaps the team’s capabilities are being underestimated.

“I find it all a bit difficult to estimate,” Jos said, “because yes I think the other teams are doing that.

“Only then is it easy to say that the car is so good. Honestly, I think it’s all bullsh*t,” Verstappen senior smiled.

It’s clear that after an early challenge from teammate Sergio Perez, Verstappen is comfortably cruising, solidifying his role as Red Bull’s lead driver.

Perez has explained that he has struggled to adapt as the team developed the car this year.

“Max adapts very well to the new things that come,” Jos emphasised. “It’s more to his liking than it is for Perez. That’s simply the case.

“But to make that car faster, they just needed a good front end. And I think if you look generally at the good drivers, they all need a good front end. Then they go fast.

“I think that’s the way it is for Max,” he said.