Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur believes Max Verstappen will make mistakes in the future, if he finds himself “under pressure”.
Pressure is certainly not what the Dutchman felt for the vast majority of the recently completed 2023 season, which he won by a staggering 290 points.
Verstappen was so imperious, that Red Bull would’ve won the Constructors’ Championship on his points alone.
The three-time World Champion was put under pressure in only a handful of races this year, and it was typically Sergio Perez applying it.
Perez was able to compete with Verstappen in the opening rounds, before the Dutchman “was on another planet”.
As for Ferrari in particular, they only challenged Verstappen in Singapore and Las Vegas, with the latter being where the 26-year-old and Charles Leclerc collided.
Carlos Sainz actually won the Singapore Grand Prix, in what was Red Bull’s worst event of 2023.
Leclerc also pressurised Verstappen in the opening laps of the Abu Dhabi season finale but ended up falling almost 18 seconds behind.
Nobody was able to consistently stop the Dutch driver, with Vasseur not disagreeing with the fact that he had a “mega season”.
“I think it is not sure that someone has a doubt on this, he did a mega season,” Vasseur said as per Autosport. “He was fighting with Checo in the first two or three events and then he was on another planet.
“Clearly, he didn’t make a mistake all season, and when he struggled in qualy, like in Jeddah, it was due to a mechanical issue. And then he was always there, always making good starts, no contact. The only one was Vegas.”
Whilst Vasseur acknowledges how good Verstappen was in 2023, he still believes the Red Bull star is beatable.
The Frenchman is confident that Ferrari are catching Verstappen and that the Dutchman does make errors when pressure is applied onto him or Red Bull, but that in 2023, the Italians were often too far behind to capitalise.
“I think we are getting a bit closer to him, we are,” Vasseur added.
“I don’t want to say putting him under pressure because it is not true, [in Abu Dhabi] he was not under pressure. But he was a bit more under pressure than he was in Zandvoort, or in some other events when he was flying.
“There is no doubt about the fact that he was dominating all the season, and the only issue for us is that, as everybody, he will do more mistakes when he will be under pressure.
“But nobody was able to put him under pressure this season except us at the last two or three events, or except Carlos in Singapore.
“And it’s where he started to do some mistakes, or perhaps Red Bull did some mistakes in terms of set-up. We were too far away to put this kind of pressure on them.”