Verstappen picks best and worst F1 races of 2023

Verstappen and Red Bull crushed the competition by respectively winning 19 and 21 of the season’s 22 races, meaning the Dutchman has plenty of standout wins to choose from as he sat down with Autosport to pick his best and worst race weekends of the year.

After careful consideration, the triple world champion replied: “I think Spa was still a very strong weekend again. Probably Japan was very strong one – from lap one it was unbelievable to drive.

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“I looked on the screen and I was like, ‘alright, that’s a good start!’ Balance-wise, probably Japan qualifying that was really nice to drive.”

Verstappen’s Suzuka weekend stands out because he was immediately on the pace from the start of free practice and he was a cut above the competition through sector one’s famed Esses.

Against McLaren’s Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, who posed the biggest threat to Red Bull that weekend, Verstappen immediately took two tenths in Q3 and then continued setting purple sectors to end a whopping six tenths clear of Piastri.

In Sunday’s race he also went up to half a second quicker than anyone else through the twisty section.

Verstappen blitzed the field on Sunday to win by 19 seconds on Norris and 36 on Piastri, with Ferrari and Mercedes over 40 seconds adrift.

Intriguingly, Verstappen did not pick Singapore, the only race Red Bull failed to win, as his worst weekend of the year.

Red Bull was lost over the street circuit’s bumps, with Verstappen finishing fifth from 11th on the grid. Team-mate Sergio Perez similarly moved up from 13th to a modest eighth.

“The worst one was still Baku,” Verstappen said. “I was just not being happy with how everything was going.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Erik Junius

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

“In Singapore we were just off and probably made a few mistakes with the set-up as well. It was just messy. For me, Singapore didn’t happen in a way. I don’t count that one!”

In Azerbaijan Verstappen was beaten to pole by two tenths by Charles Leclerc, and after qualifying and finishing third in the sprint he went on to finish second in the grand prix behind Perez.

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While on paper the race was far from disastrous, Verstappen said it was the worst he had felt in the RB19.

He therefore utilised the second half of the Baku race to experiment with set-up options on the steering wheel, which then yielded useful results to apply later on through the season.

“It was maybe not the best stint of my life, but it was also just because I was trying out a lot of tools [changes] between brake bias, differential, engine braking,” he explained.

“Because also the car was very new and that was also a street circuit which has 90-degree corners, so you might anyway want a little different behaviour from the car.

“That’s why I think it was a bit of hit-and-miss throughout the stint, but the end of the stint was actually very strong, where I think already I’d hurt my tyres quite badly from the beginning trying to pass.

“When I came out of that race, I said ‘Okay, I didn’t win the race but I actually learned a lot for the upcoming races’.”

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