F1

Max Verstappen emotional as he says goodbye to dominant 2023 Red Bull car

Max Verstappen won 19 of the 22 races in 2023 (Kamran Jebreili/AP)
Max Verstappen won 19 of the 22 races in 2023 (Kamran Jebreili/AP) Max Verstappen won 19 of the 22 races in 2023 (Kamran Jebreili/AP)

Max Verstappen admitted he was left feeling emotional after bidding farewell to the Red Bull machine that carried him to the most dominant Formula One season ever seen.

Verstappen ended his crushing championship campaign with his 19th win of the year in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, becoming the first driver to lead 1,000 laps in a single season.

The all-conquering Dutchman has won 17 of the last 18 races – which included a record streak of 10 straight victories – and wrapped up his third successive world title with six rounds to spare.

He failed to win on just three occasions, out-scoring Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull by 290 points – the equivalent of nearly 12 Grand Prix victories.

“It has been an incredible season and I was emotional on the in-lap back to the pits because it was the last time I will sit in a car which has given me so much,” said the 26-year-old.

“It will be very hard to have another season like this and we know that. Of course, you always want to do better and we are working hard for next year to have a very competitive car.

“All the other teams out there want to try and beat us next year, but we are ready for the battle.”

Verstappen is under contract with Red Bull until 2028 and, without a major regulation change until 2026, he could be untouchable for the next two seasons.

His 54th career win at the Yas Marina Circuit moved him to a standalone third in the all-time list, with only Lewis Hamilton’s 103 wins and Michael Schumacher, on 91 now, ahead of him.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen Max Verstappen won 19 races from 22 (Kamran Jebreili/AP)

Red Bull only failed to complete a perfect season following one off-colour weekend in Singapore.

“To win 21 out of 22 races is insanity,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

“For Max to have led over 1000 laps out of 1300, to win 19 races and break so many records along the way, this car will go down in history for a considerable point of time as the most successful in Formula One.

“But nothing stands still in this sport and I am sure concepts will converge, and stable regulations will concertina the grid, so I don’t think we will ever be able to repeat the season we have just had.”

Following a mammoth nine-month campaign, Verstappen will open his bid for a fourth consecutive title in Bahrain in 96 days.