What 100 podiums say about Max Verstappen

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The Saudi Arabia GP marked Max Verstappen’s 100th F1 Podium. In the post-race press conference, when he was asked how he felt about that achievement in just 188 races, he said; ”well, that’s 88 missed podiums!”, before cracking a wide smile. He’s so ridiculously on top of his game and, despite all the off-track distraction, so is his team. Bar any technical mishaps like 2022, he is almost guaranteed another podium in Australia this week. But before getting too far ahead of ourselves…let’s look at what 100 podiums really say about Max Verstappen, shall we?.

How exceptional is it?

Well, pretty exceptional. Max is only the 7th driver in F1 history to achieve 100 podiums. He’s logically number 7 now, but he could catch the likes of Raikkonen (103), Alonso and Prost (both 106) this year. Then comes a top 3 of Vettel (122), Schumacher (155) and Hamilton, who has already surpassed 100 wins and is on 197 podiums. So on the one hand, 100 podiums is special, but on the other he’d need to double his tally to top that list. The same is approximately true for wins, by the way: Max is on 56 and Lewis on 103. But then again: Lewis has been in the sport for 16 years and Max exactly half that time. Max is of course the youngest member of the 100 Podiums Club and currently he’s 5 years younger than Lewis was when he got to 100 podiums, at the 2016 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

How many podiums did he really miss?

A total of 88 missed podiums sounds like a lot. But in terms of podium percentage, 54% is the second highest average of drivers with 100 podiums and more, only surpassed by Hamilton (59%). Furthermore, with the current streak both drivers are on, that percentage is quickly dropping for Lewis and growing for Verstappen. With 31 retirements to his name, from which only roughly a third through collisions, he has not been the luckiest of drivers with reliability. Especially the Renault years were plagued by technical mishaps. Before getting to drive that Renault powered RBR, he had to do drive 23 races in the Toro Rosso, which was never a likely podium contender. The fact he managed to get that car up to 4th in both Hungary and the US speaks volumes about his racecraft. Realistically, Max ‘missed’ only 88 – 31 – 23 = 34 podiums.

34 missed opportunities?

It would quite simply be unfair to classify the missed podiums as missed opportunities. They almost all came in years where the Red Bull was not the first or second fastest car. In 2017 through to 2019, Red Bull ended third in the Constructors championship behind Mercedes and Ferrari. The expected position in these years was P5-P6, but still, Max scored 4 podiums in ’17, 11 podiums in 2018 and 9 in 2019, when Ferrari were, let’s say, in the flow for a good part of the season. Right from the start of the 2020 season, Red Bull was however in regular contention for podium positions and from ’21 onward even for wins. Out of the 85 races since the start of the 2020 season, Max has scored 69 podiums. That’s a 4-year average of 81% podium finishes, which includes, importantly, the most dominant year ever (2020) for Mercedes. Hamilton and Bottas together were claiming two spots on the podium no fewer than 10 times in 17 races.

Maximum performance and consistency

It’s actually quite mindboggling to see the level of performance Verstappen has been on in the past 3 years. 2021 was a closely fought battle for the World Championship, in which Mercedes had a slight edge over Red Bull, but Max managed 18 podiums, out of which 10 were wins. His only retirements came through collisions in Silverstone and Monza and the poorest result was due to a collision caused by Bottas in Hungary. Other than that, he was either winning, or coming in 2nd. In fact, the only third place Max has had in the past 4 years was the Monaco GP of ’22, in which his own qualifying was hampered by Pérez’ crash in qualifying. He’s either winning, or he’s right behind the winner.

Max the Machine

Since 2022, he’s mostly just been winning, though. He’s taken 36 wins in 46 Grand Prix (almost 80%) and 19 out of the last 20 (95%), stringing together two of the longest winning streaks the sport has ever seen (10 + 9 & counting). We’ve simply never seen dominance like this before and it’s unlikely we’ll ever see it again any time soon. His passion and dedication to racing are unrelenting. In Saudi, at 4 a.m. on Race Day he was on Twitch live-streaming a race with some members of his Sim-Racing team Redline. On holidays he rents a circuit to go GT-racing with buddy’s or his family. Even if all the off-track fuss, the show-aspect of Formula One and all the marketing obligations seem to bore him, the focus and ferociousness of the Dutch Lyon show whenever it’s time for Free Practice, Quali or the Race. He’s still not keen on Sprint races, but wins them regardless. Because that’s what Max is born to do: win. Never mind what anyone thinks of it: nothing is left on the table. I’ll bet you the podium percentage for his next 100 races, if he does stay another 4 to 5 years, will remain around 80%. Unless the turmoil at Red Bull sees him make a surprise move to another, far less competitive team, that is.

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24 dagen geleden

Great article Rob, but….how on earth is Max not going to end on the podium in 20 of the 100 next races??? Or, better than that, how will Max lose 20 of the next 100 races? To whom?

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