Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has rallied his team to maintain the push amid their tantalisingly close proximity to the 2022 championship.
Verstappen engaged in a slugfest with Sir Lewis Hamilton last year, and he passed the seven-time champion on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to claim his maiden world title.
This year has been, on the face of it, less stressful for the 24-year-old, who has 11 wins under his belt heading into the final six rounds of the 2022 season.
Verstappen leads Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by 116 points, while team-mate Sergio Perez has helped the Austrian side to a 139-point advantage over the Scuderia.
The Prancing Horses have put up a staunch fight against their rivals, but Red Bull’s dominance this year has resembled that of Sebastian Vettel’s incredible performances between 2010 and 2013.
The reigning champion has one hand on the world championship, and he also on course to smash two records in Formula 1.
Vettel currently holds the record of 13 wins in a single season together with Michael Schumacher, and he is the standalone holder of the most consecutive wins, with nine.
The German achieved both of those feats in his final title-winning year in 2013, and as he departs the sport at the end of this year, he may do so having seen his two records be soundly beaten by the magical Verstappen.
While the records in and of themselves may be of fairly low significance to the 31-time race winner, victories are perennially valuable, and he intends to keep pushing.
“I’ve said this before and I think everyone in the team thinks it too, we want to win more races,” said Verstappen.
“You can’t say ‘we’re happy to play it safe with second or third place’. We don’t want to let other teams win.
“If you start thinking like that, you’ll end up making mistakes.”
Red Bull’s adviser, Dr Helmut Marko, has recently noted that his Hasselt-born driver cuts a calmer figure behind the wheel of the car than he did previously.
The Austrian told ORF that Verstappen had a habit of “freaking out” when Friday practice did not go all his own way, but now that he has a title under his belt, a more clinical and measured driver has emerged.