Carlos Sainz confident Max Verstappen wasn’t trying in 2023

Max Verstappen won all but three races in 2023, on his way to a third consecutive Drivers' Championship.

Carlos Sainz is certain that Red Bull and Max Verstappen rarely went “100 per cent” in 2023, despite the fact the Dutchman claimed 19 wins from the 22 completed races.

The Red Bull driver cruised to a third consecutive Drivers’ Championship with complete ease, with him winning several races by over 10 seconds.

Sainz was actually the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race last year, at the Singapore Grand Prix where the Austrians had a poor weekend.

In fact, Singapore is the only place Red Bull weren’t victorious at in 2023, highlighting just how dominant they were.

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

Many have put Red Bull’s dominance down to just how good the RB19 and Verstappen were together, although Sainz fears that they had more to give if they wanted to.

The Spaniard revealed that the telemetry from last season showed that Verstappen could’ve often won by a bigger margin but tended to back off after getting 10 seconds ahead.

Because of this, the 29-year-old has a “theory” that Red Bull are yet to show their full potential, meaning the likes of Ferrari need to find six-tenths in 2024 “not four-tenths”.

“It’s been a complicated season with a car that was better on Saturday in qualifying than on Sunday in the race, we went on track with hopes but then came away with a lot of frustration,” Sainz said at an Estrella Galicia sponsors event.

Article continues below

“As for Verstappen‘s dominance, I think he didn’t need to go 100 per cent, he only did it when he needed to and that aspect is what scares me the most.”

“Max has gone 100 per cent when he has had to go 100 per cent. There have been many races where he and Red Bull, looking at telemetry and analysis, were already 10 seconds ahead, they didn’t need to take another five seconds off us and maybe they kept it.

READ: Mohammed Ben Sulayem: ‘I know who attacks me’

“That’s my theory, my opinion and that’s why I say to the team that we have to gain not four tenths, but six, because I’m sure they didn’t need to give 100 percent in some races. You have to go with the mentality that maybe they didn’t give 100 percent in the races where they had a big margin.”

There’s no doubting that sides like Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren need to find more to catch Red Bull this year, if they want to end the Austrians dominance.

According to reports, Ferrari are actually using Red Bull’s 2023 car as inspiration for their 2024 design, with a similar front wing expected to be introduced.