Formula 1: Max Verstappen is sending a clear message

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Formula 1 (Photo by Mert Alper Dervis/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Formula 1 (Photo by Mert Alper Dervis/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) /

Max Verstappen continues to perform at a level which nobody can touch as he aims for a third consecutive Formula 1 world championship.

Two-time reigning world champion Max Verstappen achieved his 41st career Formula 1 victory in Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, bringing him level with legendary three-time world champion Ayrton Senna in fifth place on the all-time wins list.

While Sunday’s 70-lap race around the 14-turn, 2.71-mile (4.361-kilometer) road course saw the closest on-track margin between Verstappen and the next highest non-Red Bull driver this season, it was still a race that was never in doubt for the driver who continues to build upon an already massive lead in the standings.

Verstappen has not finished lower than second place through the season’s first eight races, of which he has won six, and he has now won four races in a row, marking the second time he has accomplished such a feat since last summer.

It’s hard to believe that just a few races ago, Sergio Perez was the betting favorite to take away the championship lead from his teammate, ending any hope of Verstappen becoming the first wire-to-wire world champion since Lewis Hamilton in 2015.

Some even went as far as saying that that Perez had the advantage over his teammate in the world championship battle, a battle in which he looked to become a modern-day version of 2016 Nico Rosberg.

Since then, Verstappen has scored 102 of a maximum 104 points, and Perez has scored 39. He went from ninth to first in Miami, snatching the lead from Perez in the closing laps, and has led every lap since in three additional races. With eight races in the books, he hasn’t spent any time lower than first place since race number five.

He has led 224 straight laps, which is more than one-third of his career-high laps led total for a single season. Keep in mind, he won a combined 25 races in 2021 and 2022, breaking the all-time single season wins record in 2022 with 15.

And since losing that lead outside Hard Rock Stadium, Perez has just one podium finish in four races — and not a single Q3 appearance in three qualifying sessions during which Verstappen has scored pole.

Realistically, Max Verstappen never saw Sergio Perez as a threat over the course of a 22-race Formula 1 season.

While a lot can happen with 14 races remaining on the schedule, Perez has done absolutely nothing to suggest that he can outrun his teammate.

As of late, Perez looks like he may not even be able to secure a career-high second place finish in the world championship, with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton starting to creep closer in the standings.

Perez won in Jeddah after Verstappen was forced to start in 15th place following a driveshaft failure in qualifying, and he won in Baku after inheriting the lead due to a timely safety car which knocked Verstappen from the lead back to third place.

Those are the types of things that have needed to happen for Perez to beat Verstappen at all this year. Without them, Verstappen is simply on another level.

Perez’s average finish post-Miami is 8.67, and he doesn’t have a single podium finish during that span. That’s a pretty interesting stretch for a driver who was said to have the “advantage” over a driver whom some still laughably claim is “only winning because of the car”.

Perez was beaten by Alonso, Hamilton, and both Ferrari drivers in Montreal, and he would have been beaten by Mercedes’ George Russell if not for Russell’s uncharacteristic error.

Verstappen has six wins — Perez’s career total — this year alone while Perez has just four top two finishes. The sum of Perez’s results over the last three races is 26. You have to go back 14 races for Verstappen’s results to reach that tally.

This is not to say that Perez isn’t a quality driver. But keeping up with Verstappen isn’t as easy as simply driving an RB19, as the last few races have shown. Beating him once doesn’t equate to winning a world championship, though the challenge of doing so may make it feel like that when it happens.

What Verstappen is doing basically equates to playing F1 23 on easy mode. He is an elite talent in an elite Adrian Newey-designed car, and there is currently no other combination that can come close to matching it, barring some fluke mishap.

Even over the course of Formula 1 history, this combination would hold its own against any. Think back to Mercedes’ dominance just a few years ago, specifically Hamilton’s dominance during that era. Even the most decorated driver in Formula 1 history never won more than 11 races in a season.

Coming off of a 15-win campaign, Verstappen is already at six, just past the one-third point of the 2023 schedule.

Next. All-time Formula 1 wins list. dark

Verstappen has never cared about the critics or the boos, and he certainly hasn’t cared about the manufactured headlines or quotes about his teammate having the advantage — or him “wanting Perez replaced”. Four races — and four wins — removed from those remarks, that has never been clearer.