Ex-F1 champion warns Max Verstappen’s rivals they ‘better worry’

Max Verstappen broke the record for most wins and most points scored in a single season in 2022.

1978 Formula 1 World Champion Mario Andretti has warned the current grid to “worry” about reigning World Champion Max Verstappen, who the American believes will only “get better” with age.

It’s remarkable to believe that 2023 will be Verstappen’s ninth season at the pinnacle of motorsport, despite being just 25 years old.

It feels somewhat like Verstappen has been around forever, given that he made his debut at just 16.

He’s certainly improved with age, with the Dutchman having arguably gotten faster with every season.

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Verstappen took his game to another level last year, by blitzing the record for most wins and most points scored in a single season.

Andretti believes Verstappen is capable of performing to that level once again “for the foreseeable future”, hence the warning to the other drivers.

“He showed the quality of his driving quite clearly, in the last couple of years, and it’s only going to get better,” Andretti said.

“He’s young enough to be able to perform at the highest level for the foreseeable future. And again, if you’re the competition, you better worry about it.”

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Whilst Verstappen was cruising to countless victories last season, other teams were dealing with issues, most notably, Mercedes.

It resulted in some interesting races, where different teams were dealing with different issues, largely due to so many of the sides having had a different interpretation of the new aerodynamic regulations.

Andretti doesn’t think this is “unusual” given how “massive” the regulations change was.

“I think it was a bit of a mix, which is somewhat to be expected; whenever you have a change of regulations that’s so massive, it was a total redesign of the cars,” said Andretti.

“So you can expect that teams will deal with a situation differently. There’s some that had too much downforce, and they were experiencing a lot more porpoising and others, and so on, and so forth. 

“But there’s nothing unusual about that whenever you have a huge change. So the season was still as interesting as you want it to be because teams were always continuously trying to solve the situation.

One of the teams who suffered from issues were Ferrari, a team that Andretti drove for during two spells.

Interestingly, the majority of the Italians issues were brought up upon themselves, through an array of strategic errors.

Andretti was “shocked” at how Ferrari blew their title chances last season but is hopeful that they “learned” from their mistakes, something which will be discovered in just a couple of weeks.

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“[I was] shocked and somewhat disappointed; as you can imagine, I’m a Ferrari fan, as you would expect. And, after a dismal season two years ago, they had to pay for something and ride it out,” explained Andretti.

“Now all of a sudden they were, at the top of the game and then unfortunately, to their admittance, I mean that they admitted some mistakes made down the stretch, [particularly on] strategy. 

“Some driver mistakes, for instance, maybe for being so much under pressure. Nevertheless, I’m sure that they learned from that. It’s going to be interesting [to see] how the season goes for them.”