For Red Bull Racing’s ace Max Verstappen, 2023 was an extraordinary season. In fact, you could say that this year he had arguably the most dominant season by a driver in the sport’s history. The Dutchman didn’t just capture his third straight Formula 1 world championship—he broke multiple records along the way.
When he won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit last Sunday, he recorded his 19th win in a season of 23 races, giving him the most wins in a season and the highest percentage of wins.
With his triple titles, he has now won 54 races in total, taking him passed 4-time world champion Sebastian Vettel and putting him is third place of the most successful drivers in terms of wins behind 7-time title holder Michael Schumacher (91 wins) and 7-time winner Lewis Hamilton (103 wins).
Verstappen finished the 2023 season with 575 points – the most in a season and his 290-point margin over Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez is the biggest ever difference between first and second in the Drivers’ Championship. He also beat Vettel’s 2013 record of nine consecutive wins when the Dutchman stood on the podium’s highest step 10 times in a row.
But before we list more of his record-breaking feats over the past few years, let’s first briefly examine the family who conceived the Dutch ace. Born of the marriage of ex-F1 racer Jos Verstappen and Belgian ex-kart driver champion Sophie Kumpen—whose cousin is NASCAR racing driver Anthony Kumpen—motor racing DNA was in Max’s blood. He grew up around F1 race tracks in the late 90s and noughties, having met most of his father’s rival drivers including Michael Schumacher, who he idolized.
When Verstappen secured his first F1 seat in 2015 with Scuderia Toro Rosso, when he was just 17 years and 166 days old, he was the youngest driver ever to make his debut in Formula 1.
Driving at the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2015, at age 17 years and 180 days, Verstappen was the youngest F1 driver to ever score points when he finished seventh.
In 2016, at age 19, he became the youngest driver to set the fastest race lap when he blitzed the field at the Brazilian GP
It was just a matter of time before he won his first race. At 18 years and 228 days old, Verstappen became the youngest driver ever to win an F1 race when he finished in 1st place in the 2016 Spanish GP.
In 2019, Max Verstappen clocked the fastest qualifying time in his RB15 to become the first Dutch driver ever to put his car on pole position.
At age 23, Verstappen achieved the so-called ‘Grand Slam’ of F1 when, at the Austrian GP in 2021, he claimed pole position, led every lap, won the race and also set the fastest lap.
In 2023, Max also beat Vettel’s 2011 record of 739 laps led in one year, when he clocked up his 1,003th lap led at the Abu Dhabi GP last weekend. And finally, Verstappen also broke Schumacher’s record of 12 pole-to-wins when he notched up his 13th straight pole-to-victory at this year’s Japanese GP.
As the central figure of the growing Dutch ‘Orange Army’ of Verstappen-supporting spectators who follow his escapades around the globe, the Dutch triple champion is an outspoken character, criticizing the recent Las Vegas GP by saying “I love Vegas but hated the race. It was 99% show, 1% sporting event. I think Monaco is like the Champions League, this is National League.”
With F1’s popularity and exposure at an all-time high in the U.S. and beyond thanks to the Netflix TV series ‘Drive to Survive,’ F1 can expect continued record crowds. And with a multiple record-breaking hero like Verstappen who is not afraid to call it like he sees it, we can expect to see the sport’s popularity skyrocketing even further.