Max Verstappen unbothered by Ferrari and Mercedes threat

Max Verstappen is targeting his third consecutive Drivers' Championship in 2023, after being unstoppable last season.

Reigning World Champion Max Verstappen is expecting the 2023 season to be a “bit closer” than last year, with the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes having spent all winter figuring out how to beat the Dutchman and Red Bull.

Verstappen was in a league of his own for the vast majority of 2022, with the 25-year-old having defended his 2021 crown with relative ease.

Whilst the start of the season proved to be difficult following some reliability issues for Red Bull, the Austrians quickly got on top of their issues and on top of Ferrari, who dominated the start of last season.

Once Verstappen got in control of the championship, he went on to win a record-breaking 15 wins, eclipsing Sebastian Vettel’s and Michael Schumacher’s record for 13 wins in a season.

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If that wasn’t enough for the Dutch driver, he also beat Vettel’s record for most points in a season, after accumulating 454 points.

Verstappen raised his game last season, to a point where he was effectively unbeatable; however, his superiority did wear him out personally.

Verstappen’s father, ex-F1 driver Jos Verstappen, explained that the Red Bull star was a “bit done” with racing after sealing the title, with rest seemingly having been on the double World Champion’s mind following the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“He’s just a bit done with everything now. Especially when you have won the championship, then the pressure is off and it becomes less exciting,” Jos told Viaplay, as per the Mirror.

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“For Max, I think it was just important that he broke that record with those wins. I think that’s the most important thing.”

Following the season, Verstappen and his girlfriend, Kelly Piquet, jetted off to St Barts for a getaway, before the 2023 campaign springs into life.

With the upcoming season starting earlier than usual, Verstappen hasn’t had long to not only relax, but to also prepare himself for yet another title defence.

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Verstappen isn’t expecting to dominate the 2023 season in the same way he cruised to the title last year, with the Red Bull star expecting a “closer” title fight, something he is more than happy about.

“To be honest, I do think it will all be a bit closer next year – that is also the intention of these regulations,” said Verstappen.

“I don’t mind. Good battles on track and a good championship until the end would be fantastic.”