Max Verstappen was surprised the drivers’ championship ended up being decided so early given the strength of the Ferrari car this year, and hopes for a closer battle in 2023.
Verstappen wrapped up his second drivers’ title at the Japanese Grand Prix, with four rounds to spare, despite being 46 points adrift of Charles Leclerc after the opening three rounds of the season. He had retired from two of those first three races and said it was a frustrating time but also one that meant he was surprised the battle didn’t remain close.
“At the time, you’re also just really upset with the situation,” Verstappen said. “But just looking at how the whole season was going in terms of how close the cars were, yeah it’s very surprising to have this much of a lead. But when you look at what happened during the races you can understand.
“So I’m in a way pleased that it was like that, but of course, in another way you do like having a close battle. But hopefully we can have that then next year.”
And Verstappen revealed it was early in the season that he realized how unlikely it was that Ferrari was going to be able to prevent him from taking the title, when he won a race that Leclerc had been leading but retired from.
“The main low moments were in the beginning of the season with the retirements, because you know, even if you have a little bit of a bad race, you always have to score points, right. And retiring is the worst thing that can happen.
“There were a few moments where I thought we have a good chance of winning it. But I think the moment where I thought now we are going to win it was I think after Paul Ricard, where the lead increased by quite a bit.
“We had a quite competitive car, I knew it was going to be quite close in the coming races, but I was like ‘this is a gap which we cannot give away anymore’.”