‘That does not bother me’: Max Verstappen outlines plan for 2023

Red Bull won the 2022 Constructors' Championship by a monstrous 209 points from Ferrari.

With the 2022 Formula 1 season officially complete following the post-season test at Abu Dhabi, the paddock’s eyes are quickly beginning to turn to 2023, which is predicted to be an incredibly close affair.

Max Verstappen will have an enormous task on his hands to match his 2022 success next season, with the Dutchman having claimed two impressive records during the campaign.

Red Bull’s star set a new all-time high for the most wins achieved in a single season, with Verstappen having won a ridiculous 15 times in 2022, breaking the previous record of 13 wins with ease.

As well as this, the double World Champion broke the record for most points accumulated in a single season, with the 25-year-old having claimed 454 points across the 22-round season.

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With that in mind, Verstappen has confirmed that for next season he will continue to use number 1, rather than return to his traditional number 33.

“Yes, I’ll compete again with the 1,” Verstappen is quoted as saying to Speed Week.

“For me that’s the best race number, because how many times can you compete with the number of the champion? As long as I can successfully defend my title, nothing will change.

“I can drive with 33 again soon enough.”

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Verstappen isn’t wrong by saying that he might lose the number 1 title “soon enough”, with 2023 set to be drastically closer than this season.

Verstappen and Red Bull claimed both titles this year with relative ease, something that is unlikely to happen next year with both Ferrari and Mercedes expected to be stronger.

Verstappen’s father, ex-F1 driver Jos Verstappen, is also expecting a close fight next year, but that it should make for an “exciting season”.

“The field will move closer together again, which is ultimately the goal of the regulations and this new generation of cars,” he told Viaplay.

“That does not bother me. Good duels and an exciting season right to the end are fantastic.”

Another ex-F1 driver, Ralf Schumacher is expecting to see a “three-way battle” in 2023, following Mercedes’ warning that they’ll be back at the top next season.

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Ferrari, too, will be stronger next season, as they switched their focus to 2023 relatively early, suggesting that the Italians may start the new season just as strongly as they started the most recent campaign.

“I’m assuming a three-way battle next year,” Schumacher told Sky Deutschland.

“I’m a bit surprised that Mercedes struggled again in Abu Dhabi so obviously their problems have not yet been fully recognised.”