Winning hamster Max Verstappen left a little bit of hope for the future for the severely sobered Formula 1 competition.
"I will certainly not drive in Formula 1 until I'm 40. I want to do other things," said the world champion after his overwhelmingly clear success in Spa-Francorchamps. For the moment, however, the Red Bull driver cannot be got hold of, his second world title should be sealed shortly. At the home game in Zandvoort at the weekend, Verstappen beckons the next step towards the record wins of the season.
"Unilateral annihilation" of opponents
Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel still share this record, the two German champions each won 13 races in one World Cup year. After the 14th of the 22 races of the season, Verstappen has already achieved nine victories. "The ease with which he is currently performing these services is unlikely," said Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko on Sky. The British "Daily Mail" observed "a unilateral annihilation" of the opposition in Spa.
His storm from 14th on the grid to first place hardly made Verstappen sweat. Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz said the defending champion was "like from another planet". Verstappen promised that things would get tighter again in the dunes of Zandvoort. But hardly anyone believes in view of the playful dominance of the 24-year-old in Belgium.
"I don't think there will be a few miracles next week that we're very close to Red Bull," admitted Charles Leclerc, third in the World Cup. The gap between Ferrari hopes and Verstappen has swelled to 98 points. In the first race after the summer break, the Scuderia was outclassed by Red Bull. "Obviously that's a big gap. We just have to try to improve," said team boss Mattia Binotto - and seemed pretty clueless.
In the first few months of the season, Ferrari usually had the best car, but lost success due to sometimes hair-raising breakdowns and mistakes. In the meantime, Red Bull seems to have left the Italians behind in the development race. Gloomy prospects for the emotional home race in Monza in just under two weeks. "This is the result of a huge amount of work behind the scenes. There are many unknown heroes at the Milton Keynes plant and they all make the difference," said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.
Party in orange
The biggest factor, however, is Verstappen. The merciless one-sidedness of how majestically he plowed through the field in Spa was reminiscent of the gala drives of record world champions Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. The challengers around Ferrari and Mercedes should quickly find a technical antidote for the tension in Formula 1, otherwise this Verstappen will be heading towards a long series of titles.
The Dutchman himself takes note of his superiority quite coolly. "I'm enjoying it today, then I'll go home and don't think so much about Formula 1. And on Thursday I'll jump on the plane and then I'll think about Zandvoort," said Verstappen. The party weeks in orange can go on.