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Why dominant Verstappen is no new F1 driver in 2023, by the man who knows him best

The manner of Max Verstappen’s charge to his third-successive Formula 1 championship has inevitably led to plaudits that he is operating at a higher level than ever before.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, with Jos Verstappen and Helmut Marko, Consultant, Red Bull Racing, in Parc Ferme

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, with Jos Verstappen and Helmut Marko, Consultant, Red Bull Racing, in Parc Ferme

Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Having been pretty much unstoppable since the early phase of the season, it is hard to argue against Verstappen delivering an intensity of form like never before.

Even Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says there have been times when the squad has been surprised at what Verstappen has done in the car.

“Some of the races he's driven this year have been so great that it's exceeded all our expectations,” said Horner, after seeing Verstappen clinch his latest crown in Qatar.

PLUS: Why Verstappen won't emulate past F1 champions who let up once the title was over

“I think Max as a driver has just continued to evolve, and he's continued to grow. The level that he's now operating and the way he's able to read races, the way he is able to manage tyres, the mental strength that he has in the high-pressure moments, is absolutely outstanding.”

But there is one man who doesn’t buy the theory that this year’s title success is down to a new Verstappen - and he is someone who perhaps knows the Dutchman better than anyone else.

His father Jos Verstappen thinks the true story of the 2023 title charge is not about a driver who has lifted his game; it is more about him having underneath him a car that allows him to better show off talent that has been there for years.

Asked by Autosport if he agreed with views that his son was a different driver this year, Jos Verstappen said: “Not for me. I think it's the same Max as three, four years ago.

“Only the difference now is that he has a fantastic car around him, and he knows the people who he works with.

The car of Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, 2nd position and 2023 drivers world champion, in Parc Ferme after the Sprint race

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

The car of Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, 2nd position and 2023 drivers world champion, in Parc Ferme after the Sprint race

“I think that makes it look easy. But still, you have to be there every weekend. And the details make a difference.

“For me, if he had this car four years ago, I wouldn't say he would win another 10 races, but for sure, he was very close to what we have seen now.”

Jos has helped guide his son’s career for decades and is immensely proud of everything that has been achieved in F1.

He says the signs of his potential were there right from the karting days, and he thinks that sometimes the way he pulls off wins almost makes it look like a walk in the park.

“In the last few years of go karting, he had something I would say special,” he said.

“And you can see it still now. It's unbelievable. I think with experience, it makes him better. It’s the way he is living, and the way he's doing it, that makes it look very easy.”

There is another aspect that Verstappen Sr. says has not changed either; and that the honest relationship he has with his son over his performance.

While he smiled that “the time is gone” for him to offer advice on dealing with F1's challenges, he says there is still room for him to speak out if he sees things he is not happy with.

“I tell him what I see,” said Jos. “If he does a manoeuvre I think was on the limit, then I will tell him.

“That's a good thing I have with him. We are very honest to each other. Obviously, I think also that helped him come here [to F1], and I think you [the media] have experienced that as well.

“He is what he is. He tells it straightforward how things are, and I think that's a good thing.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing and father Jos Verstappen

Photo by: Erik Junius

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing and father Jos Verstappen

And just as Jos says having the right equipment has been critical to recent success, so too he thinks that will be a factor in defining just what level of success Max can go on to achieve in F1.

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As a former team-mate of Michael Schumacher, Jos Verstappen is well placed to offer opinion on if his son can go to achieve as much as the seven-time champion.

Asked if he believed Max had the same focus and desire as Schumacher, he said: “Very close to that.”

Then pushed on if he could go on to become as successful as the German, Verstappen said: "You need to have luck that he is in a good car for the next coming years. You need the equipment to do it.

"But I think, if he has that, he will do it.”

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