On the final evening of Formula 1 on Yas Island, Verstappen's hit "Super-Max" boomed from one of the yachts behind the paddock. Above all, this one question was ringing in the minds of the competition: How can Max Verstappen even be beaten? There are less than 100 days until the competition from the big manufacturers Mercedes and Ferrari can make the next attempt to slow down the Red Bull racing team, which was once decried as a party team, and prevent Verstappen's fourth title triumph in a row.
But the air is very thin for the pursuers who have been humiliated so often this year. “There is a Mount Everest ahead of us to catch up with Red Bull,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. "Red Bull won by 17 seconds and haven't touched the car since August, so you can pretty well imagine where they will be next year," said Wolff's star driver Lewis Hamilton.
Break until spring
Over 1,000 leading laps, 19 race wins by Verstappen, 21 of 22 by Red Bull. Never has a team or driver been so dominant in one year in the history of Formula 1 since 1950. "It won't continue like this, but it will win "We still want to," said Red Bull's motorsport director Helmut Marko.
But who knows, maybe things will continue like this when the season starts on March 2nd in Bahrain with a record number of 24 Grand Prix. 24 opportunities for Verstappen to extend his 54 wins and get closer to Hamilton (103) and Michael Schumacher (91).
24 opportunities on the way to the fourth title in a row - just like Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull from 2010 to 2013. Verstappen surpassed his 53 Grand Prix successes with his victory on Sunday in Abu Dhabi.
Papa Verstappen is proud
“Unprecedented consistency,” wrote “De Telegraaf” from Verstappen’s Dutch homeland. “They are fabulous records,” said the Swiss “Tages-Anzeiger”, among other things, in view of the previously unattained 1003 leading laps or the number of victories in one year or 21 podium places.
He only missed the top three once - in fifth place in Singapore - and he came second twice. "I'm very proud of you," Jos Verstappen radioed his son into the cockpit after the last finish of the year.
The fact that Verstappen became the way he is now is also due to his father. Although Verstappen had already become world champion after the sprint in Qatar on October 7th, he did not let up, on the contrary.
He won the remaining six Grand Prix. There were a total of seven in a row at the end, during the season he had already broken Vettel's record from the 2013 season and won ten times in a row.
"I think it's just because of how I grew up. I can't go into a weekend and not give it my all," he emphasized. "I would be annoyed with myself and I know the people around me would be annoyed with me if I did that."
Competition remains only hope
This is driving the competition more and more to desperation. Charles Leclerc, once considered the future world champion of the Scuderia and of the same vintage as Verstappen, remains the principle of hope after the fifth Ferrari year in a row, but the disillusionment seems greater. "There's still a long way to go to reach Red Bull's speed."
Red Bull stopped development on the overpowering RB 19 early on; it was simply not necessary. It is difficult for everyone to say goodbye to perhaps the best car that the team has put on the asphalt since it started in 2005. “Hopefully we can use the lessons from the RB 19 and apply them to the RB 20 so that we can defend the titles,” emphasized Christian Horner, who was already the Red Bull team boss at the RB 1.
Mercedes encourages herself
For the 20th model, he and Verstappen can once again rely on the genius of designer Adrian Newey, who plays a key role in the racing team's success story. He has been part of the team since 2006. But the soon-to-be 65-year-old also raves about Verstappen and praises his complex skills behind the wheel, be it handling the tires or his ability to read the race: "Max is pretty extraordinary at that."
The highly praised and highly decorated man himself is aware that repeating the superlative season that has just passed is difficult. It remains questionable whether Mercedes team boss Wolff's promise will cause him worries during the Christmas and winter breaks. “We have to reach for the stars, and that will happen,” Wolff emphasized - the sky is also closer from Mount Everest.