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Max Verstappen in 2023: the greatest ever F1 season performance by one driver?


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Poll: Greatest season performances (243 member(s) have cast votes)

What was the greatest season performance in F1 history?

  1. Alberto Ascari - 1952 (1 votes [0.41%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.41%

  2. Juan Manuel Fangio - 1954 (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  3. Juan Manuel Fangio - 1955 (1 votes [0.41%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.41%

  4. Stirling Moss - 1961 (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  5. Jim Clark - 1963 (4 votes [1.65%])

    Percentage of vote: 1.65%

  6. Jim Clark - 1965 (16 votes [6.58%])

    Percentage of vote: 6.58%

  7. Jackie Stewart - 1969 (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  8. Jackie Stewart - 1973 (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  9. Alain Prost - 1986 (4 votes [1.65%])

    Percentage of vote: 1.65%

  10. Ayrton Senna - 1988 (6 votes [2.47%])

    Percentage of vote: 2.47%

  11. Ayrton Senna - 1993 (3 votes [1.23%])

    Percentage of vote: 1.23%

  12. Michael Schumacher - 1998 (7 votes [2.88%])

    Percentage of vote: 2.88%

  13. Michael Schumacher - 2000 (6 votes [2.47%])

    Percentage of vote: 2.47%

  14. Michael Schumacher - 2004 (9 votes [3.70%])

    Percentage of vote: 3.70%

  15. Lewis Hamilton - 2007 (13 votes [5.35%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.35%

  16. Fernando Alonso - 2012 (21 votes [8.64%])

    Percentage of vote: 8.64%

  17. Lewis Hamilton - 2018 (5 votes [2.06%])

    Percentage of vote: 2.06%

  18. Max Verstappen - 2023 (103 votes [42.39%])

    Percentage of vote: 42.39%

  19. Other - please state in the comments (sorry I missed your choice) (7 votes [2.88%])

    Percentage of vote: 2.88%

  20. You can't compare drivers of different eras. (37 votes [15.23%])

    Percentage of vote: 15.23%

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#1 F1Frog

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 15:58

This thread might turn toxic and have to be locked but it is just supposed to be an interesting talking point.

 

 

Max Verstappen has just won 19 out of 22 races in a season, breaking the record for most wins in a season, most consecutive wins, closest to maximum points (ignoring dropped scores), most laps led. It is probably the most dominant season ever for one driver. Of the three he didn't win, Jeddah was due to a car problem in qualifying, Baku was an unlucky safety car (although Perez could have beaten him anyway), and in Singapore the car was uncompetitive and the safety car came at a bad time.

 

The Red Bull also hasn't been as dominant as other best cars in the past. It has been the best at every race bar Singapore, and has been pretty much 100% reliable (bar Jeddah qualifying), but it hasn't had the one second gaps of the Mercedes in the Hamilton-Rosberg era. Effectively, Verstappen has had a few tenths advantage over the rest every time, but his remarkable consistency means he has never put in an off-day to the extent that one of the teams not far behind could have beaten him. The most comparable season in the past would be Alberto Ascari in 1952, but Verstappen has done it in a season over three times as long. There is certainly an argument for it being the greatest season performance of all time. I would suggest that Max Verstappen is now more consistent than any of the other greats of history, and his racecraft is also outstanding, he never seems to lose out in these situations. He was helped by DRS making overtaking easier, but it was mainly Verstappen's brilliance that meant he was almost never beaten this season despite Perez finishing in the top two just six times.

 

However, personally, I would argue against it being the greatest ever for one reason. I don't think we saw Verstappen pushed to his very best. It is hard to pick out any particularly outstanding Verstappen drives in 2023 (maybe Monaco was quite special). Because he just had an advantage over the rest and consolidated it by being so consistently perfect, but never anything special. He was helped by Sergio Perez underperforming. I think the only other season in recent times that would be among the greatest ever would be Lewis Hamilton in 2018, and while he had some bad races like China where Bottas was better all weekend, he also had other races like Monza where he had to put in a truly special performance to win, and ultimately destroyed four-time champion Sebastian Vettel that year despite having practically equal cars. I think Verstappen's season was a bit better than Hamilton's in 2018, but a race like Monza, or a qualifying lap like Singapore was what it was missing.

 

So, personally, I am going to make an argument for Jim Clark in 1965 as the greatest season performance in history. He won six races out of ten that year, but of the other four, he missed Monaco because he was racing in the Indy 500, and retired in Monza, Watkins Glen and Mexico City, all while battling for the lead so he may have won all three had he not retired, although it is not totally assured. But I think the remarkable thing about Clark's 1965 season was the fact that, unlike in 1963, his Lotus wasn't really any better than the BRM driven by Graham Hill, probably the second-best driver at the time although some would make a case for John Surtees or Dan Gurney, and Jackie Stewart, a rookie but destined to become the best driver after Clark's death in 1968. And of his six wins, East London, the Nurburgring and Zandvoort weren't by huge margins but were fairly comfortable, and the other three were all special performances. In Clermont-Ferrand he had to drive an older car and engine and still won by a comfortable margin. In Spa-Francorchamps, it was in very wet conditions and he and Jackie Stewart lapped the rest of the field, Clark eventually leaving Stewart behind. Silverstone was his most special performance, dominating the first stint and then having to turn the engine off in the corners in the closing laps to prevent oil-surge damage while Hill hunted him down. I think this was the greatest Formula 1 season performance in history, and that was before you even mention that he also won the Indy 500, the Tasman series and F2. Although the one black mark on the season was crashing out of the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch.

 

Would other people say that Max Verstappen has just put in the greatest season in history or not? And please try not to get the thread locked :)

 

Also, I know you can't really compare drivers of different eras. But that is the boring answer to this question. I have put it as an option in the poll so people can express their dissatisfaction without ruining the thread.



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#2 ConsiderAndGo

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 16:00

Yes. A monstrous, taking the mic, incredible performance.

#3 kumo7

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 16:02

Kudos to max.

#4 Ruudbackus

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 16:07

It's a bit tought to answer as I only know about those early seasons from reading. From the seasons I'v watched myself (since 94) it always has been the Schumacher 2002/2004 years that were the best in my eyes, closely followed by Vettel 2013 and Hamilton 2020 (which is missing from the options). But this year has just been rediculous. So many records broken, not just absolutely but also %-wise. No real errors except maybe the qualification in Singapore. Flawless and i doubt we get to see a better one then this. 



#5 EightGear

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 16:07

Yes.

#6 Glengavel

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 16:07

I voted Clark in 1965 as well. F1 World Champion, Indianapolis 500 winner, Tasman Series winner, F2 Trophees de France and British F2 champion.



#7 ForzaGTR

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 16:11

Not even close, it's easy when you have no competition. Stick Leclerc in the other Red Bull and the season looks very different

#8 P123

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 16:14

It's got to be up there among the very top.  Superb season from Max.  An all time great.  In a Newey car.  That doesn't break down. With 20+ races. Scary stuff.  Among driver and team there is no great weakness, whether outright pace, managing a stint, strategy, development, pitstops, setup.  Highly impressive.



#9 EightGear

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 16:15

Not even close, it's easy when you have no competition. Stick Leclerc in the other Red Bull and the season looks very different


Man manages to not-win only 3 races, and it is 'not even close.'

Ok.

#10 ForzaGTR

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 16:17

Man manages to not-win only 3 races, and it is 'not even close.'

Ok.


Huge car advantage, unrivalled reliability and a lame duck team mate. His performance in 2021 was far more impressive.

#11 TomNokoe

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 16:21

Yes. It is not easy to maximise your result every single weekend, no matter how easy Max makes it look. The numbers speak for themselves.

#12 nca

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 16:21

I voted Clark in 1965 as well. F1 World Champion, Indianapolis 500 winner, Tasman Series winner, F2 Trophees de France and British F2 champion.

 

I fully agree with your selection of Jim Clark.

Please remember that in addition to his tally of wins, Jim was a Scottish Motor Sporting Gentleman. There was never any doubt what so ever about his driving standards.

 

nca



#13 katmen

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 16:23

yes, numbers are there, hard numbers it is objective

 

tough pill to swallow for brits and ascari fans but percentage is there



#14 Zmeej

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 16:23

Not even close, it's easy when you have no competition. Stick Leclerc in the other Red Bull and the season looks very different

 

Stick any one of LeClerc, Alonso, or Hamilton in the other Red Bull and the season is on fire. :stoned:



#15 AlexPrime

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 16:25

I don't know. He was almost perfect, but he had an amazing car and was not under pressure. To win under pressure for me is most amazing, so I choose Senna 1988.



#16 Burtros

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 16:26

I haven’t enjoyed it at all but yes. As flawless as any campaign could possibly be.

Edited by Burtros, 26 November 2023 - 16:27.


#17 GunnarN7

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 16:26

I'd have voted for Verstappen 2021 if it was on the list. His first time fighting for a title and without a dominant car he managed an almost perfect season, even with all the shenanigans in the last races I think it's one of the best individual performances we've ever seen. I also would've put Hamilton's own 2021 season on the list.

 

As for this season, yes he's been amazing but a dominant car can always bloat things up. Vettel looked like the best driver ever to some in 2011 or 2013, and it was later proved that level of excelence is not "real". It does take a lot of commitment and motivation to stay on that level for so long during a season, but not as impressive as 2021 imo.



#18 William Hunt

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 16:27

You can never compare drivers from different era's with each other.

#19 Zmeej

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 16:27

Good idea for a thread and good OP. :up:

 

Thanks for apologizing for the lack of Lauda and Gilles, even though I would have put one of theirs tied with Senna’s, Clark’s, and Fangio’s.

 

Tied behind them - Stewart & Prost

 

Apologies also for Keke’s championship and Mario’s. :wave:

 

In terms of being the most effective for warming the cockles of my heart - Jacques’ 96 + 97, Mika’s first champeenship, and Kimi’s. Well, and Mario’s. :cool:


Edited by Zmeej, 26 November 2023 - 17:22.


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#20 William Hunt

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 16:34

But since you ask us to choose I have no doubt to pick Keijo "Keke" Rosberg in 1982.

He won the F1 world title in a car that probably was just the 6th or 7th best / quickest car on the grid, that car certainly was not a car to won a title in and he drove on a year when F1 drivers were still losing their lives.

There is not that much honour in winning a title in the very best car and one that never evrn breaks down.

#21 Zmeej

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 16:38

But since you ask us to choose I have no doubt to pick Keijo "Keke" Rosberg in 1982.

He won the F1 world title in a car that probably was just the 6th or 7th best / quickest car on the grid, that car certainly was not a car to won a title in and he drove on a year when F1 drivers were still losing their lives.

 

:up:



#22 ensign14

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 17:00

Clark 1963.  Missed one because he was morally winning the Indy 500, missed one because his engine was running on 75% capacity (and came 2nd), missed one because his engine completely misfired from the start (and came 3rd).   Against G Hill, Surtees, Brabham, Gurney - some of the best ever - and in an era when the entry barriers were much lower.  Indeed you could literally buy the world champion car and give it a lash.

 

Clark 65, Senna/Prost 88/89 (given their competition was each other), and Ascari 1953 (again anyone could buy a 500, and Fangio was coming back strong) up there too.  Of course that was an F2 season though.



#23 1player

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 17:01

Alexa, please define "recency bias"

#24 ensign14

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 17:06

But since you ask us to choose I have no doubt to pick Keijo "Keke" Rosberg in 1982.

He won the F1 world title in a car that probably was just the 6th or 7th best / quickest car on the grid, that car certainly was not a car to won a title in and he drove on a year when F1 drivers were still losing their lives.

The problem with Rosberg 1982 is that you could make the same argument for Watson or Lauda, who could have won the title had the breaks gone slightly the other way.  Ferrari had the best car but team management was from the wet paper department, Renault had the fastest but it had the reliability of Del Trotter, and Brabham handicapped itself by prepping for 1983.  It really was a mad season.  Indeed had Ferrari replaced Gilles with Mario rather than Tambay I reckon Andretti might have won the title; Patrick was one of the nicest dudes but Andretti wouldn't have left a possible 18 points on the table because he was hurt...



#25 Astandahl

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 17:10

Why there isn't Schumacher 2001 which is his best season ever?



#26 ensign14

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 17:16

Because the FIA had spent the previous couple of years systematically dismantling McLaren's technical research?



#27 MaroF1

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 17:21

Alonso 2012 still stands out to me but Max has been a monster this year, and the scary thing is hes only 26.
All of Lewis & Michael records will surely tumble down in the coming years

#28 realracer200

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 17:24

You made a poll about the greatest season performances ever but I think you actually don't have the greatest season performance in the poll which was Senna in 1991.

Edited by realracer200, 26 November 2023 - 17:24.


#29 AlexPrime

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 17:26

Alonso 2012 still stands out to me but Max has been a monster this year, and the scary thing is hes only 26.
All of Lewis & Michael records will surely tumble down in the coming years

Nothing is ever sure - he might even retire or switch to LMH



#30 Zmeej

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 17:27

Why there isn't Schumacher 2001 which is his best season ever?

 

Because he disqualified himself from the conversation via Adelaide 94, Jerez 97, charging at Coulthard at Spa 98, and countless other examples of swinish behaviour and cheating.


Edited by Zmeej, 26 November 2023 - 17:52.


#31 George Costanza

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 17:50

I would add Michael Schumacher 2002. Every race he was in the podium. But IMHO Michael's best season is 2000 given the circumstances.

Edited by George Costanza, 27 November 2023 - 00:34.


#32 Collombin

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 17:54

I voted Clark in 1965 as well. F1 World Champion, Indianapolis 500 winner, Tasman Series winner, F2 Trophees de France and British F2 champion.


I actually think his 1963 was better than his 1965. There was no Tasman Series or F2 to win in 1963, so he didn't, but his moral Indy win was backed up by the crushing Milwaukee win, his F1 results were better, he won in something other than a Lotus for the only time in the 1960s, he had his only successes in decent length sportscar events, and no faux pas like the 1965 ROC. Higher win % overall too fwiw.

Edited by Collombin, 26 November 2023 - 17:58.


#33 F1Frog

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 18:05

I actually think his 1963 was better than his 1965. There was no Tasman Series or F2 to win in 1963, so he didn't, but his moral Indy win was backed up by the crushing Milwaukee win, his F1 results were better, he won in something other than a Lotus for the only time in the 1960s, he had his only successes in decent length sportscar events, and no faux pas like the 1965 ROC. Higher win % overall too fwiw.

 

In Formula 1, however, I would say the 1963 Lotus 25 was a dominant car, whereas I'm not sure the 1965 Lotus 33 can be described as such. In fact, in 1965 I think it was on the same level as the BRM. That is what sets 1965 apart for me. But I have heard that he drove multiple races on 1963 on the same set of tyres although don't know whether this is really accurate.



#34 F1Frog

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 18:08

But since you ask us to choose I have no doubt to pick Keijo "Keke" Rosberg in 1982.

He won the F1 world title in a car that probably was just the 6th or 7th best / quickest car on the grid, that car certainly was not a car to won a title in and he drove on a year when F1 drivers were still losing their lives.

There is not that much honour in winning a title in the very best car and one that never evrn breaks down.

 

It was an impressive season, but while the Renault, Ferrari, Brabham were obviously much faster, the Renault and Brabham were so unreliable I'm not sure you can necessarily say they were better. And Ferrari had the best car that year but the death of Villeneuve and injury of Pironi cost them the drivers' title, rather than Rosberg actually beating them by being the better driver. Possibly he beat John Watson in a weaker car but that is debatable. Maybe the Alfa Romeo was also faster but the drivers were erratic and that too was unreliable. So while the Williams may have been the sixth fastest car, it wasn't the sixth best in my opinion.



#35 Collombin

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 18:10

But I have heard that he drove multiple races on 1963 on the same set of tyres although don't know whether this is really accurate.


Yes, I've read that he drove the first 4 WDC races on the same set of tyres.

#36 thefinalapex

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 18:11

Because he disqualified himself from the conversation via Adelaide 94, Jerez 97, charging at Coulthard at Spa 98, and countless other examples of swinish behaviour and cheating.


Yet you named senna in one of your previous posts, ironic to say the least.

#37 Zmeej

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 18:18

Ayrton was no saint, but Mikey is the all-time King of the Swine.



#38 masa90

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 18:32

Not even close, it's easy when you have no competition. Stick Leclerc in the other Red Bull and the season looks very different

 

You just described most seasons after 2012.



#39 Venom

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 18:59

In my time watching I think it is.

I don’t accept the lack of pressure argument. Lots of great drivers have had dominant cars with average teammates, and they’ve made far more errors than Max and had several poor races every year.

When the pressure/difficulty has gone up this year Max has been faultless. Monaco qualifying, starts from low grid positions, the many rain affected sessions during the middle of the European season. In every scenario he’s maximised the result and hasn’t put a foot wrong.

I think he’s got as close to perfection as realistically achievable this season. And many of the records set this season will outlive most of us here.

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#40 ClubmanGT

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 19:03

Because he disqualified himself from the conversation via Adelaide 94, Jerez 97, charging at Coulthard at Spa 98, and countless other examples of swinish behaviour and cheating.

 

So... one actual incident where he was clearly at fault and the rest is just froth? I suspect you may not be as objective on this as you think you are. 



#41 PlatenGlass

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 19:08

It's definitely in the conversation. But dominant championships are a different beast from ones where you're having to fight every race. Not necessarily worse, but difficult to compare. With a dominant season there are things you simply aren't tested on as much. Verstappen also made hardly any mistakes worth speaking of, but also that's arguably easier when you're comfortably ahead. So it can depend on what you give points for.

 

As a sort of parallel, I'd be unlikely to rate a dominant drive from the front as the greatest individual race drive ever. But that's slightly different because there's loads of those and it's hard to know who was driving objectively better, whereas with whole seasons, even dominant ones, generally there are more mistakes or bad races than Verstappen had this year.



#42 Risil

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 19:14

It's close! It's certainly hard to think of anything that's significantly better.

Fwiw I voted for Prost in 1986 because who else won in such style with a slower car?

#43 Zmeej

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 19:19

So... one actual incident where he was clearly at fault and the rest is just froth? I suspect you may not be as objective on this as you think you are. 

 

Before considering whether or not to drown your fanboy lungs with a deluge of facts, which two of the incidents I mentioned do you think were somehow not Michael’s fault?

 

As for objectivity, it doesn’t exist. Just ask Heisenberg.


Edited by Zmeej, 26 November 2023 - 19:24.


#44 jonpollak

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 19:22

Alexa, please define "recency bias"


Sure… Here’s what I found on the web…..

“Recency bias is a cognitive bias that favors recent events over historic ones; a memory bias. Recency bias gives "greater importance to the most recent event",[1] such as the final lawyer's closing argument a jury hears before being dismissed to deliberate.”


Jp

#45 cyclist

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 19:28

Max was amazing this year, but yes the car in his hands was a tad faster than the competition. If this is down to driver skill or just and car that is a few tenths above the rest, we will never know. Perez is not a reliable reference. I would love to have a more competitive driver next to him to see what would come out. OTOH he has been on it all year, make no critical mistakes, was fast everywhere (even in Singapore, just very unlucky and poor qualifying pace). If you consider that he could have won Jeddah if he did not have the problem in Qualifying, and was unlucky in Baku as well, it was a realistic chance for it to be 21 out of 22 wins...

 

To be so perfect overall is very hard, as has been proven by the greatest drivers in the past. Schumacher, Hamilton, Senna etc. all had some kind of off day, a mistake, a crash. To not have that in the longest season ever is amazing, regardless of the competition.

 

And no, I don't think the RB19 is the most dominant car in history if you look at the gaps to the rest of the field. Mercedes, mcLaren, Williams and Ferrari all had one or more cars that were better as a whole. Max benefitted from the fact that the competitors were not as consistent.

 

But as a season for Max, I rate 2021 the highest. It was not perfect, it was controversial, but to be up against the most succesful driver and team over a whole season in equal cars is something else. The amount of pressure this creates leaves you no room for error.



#46 F1matt

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 19:35

Max has been invincible this season in a car he has mastered but the rest of the grid have lacked consistency. There wasn't one single driver who kept him honest all season long, plenty of drivers had good races at different times, Checo early on, Alonso never really had the car to take it to Max, Ferrari (and its star driver) flattered to deceive, McLaren had a good summer and probably had the best chance to scalp him but never did the job, although fair play to Oscar for his sprint race victory, and Mercedes came alive towards the end of the season then faded very quickly. I wonder who the next world champion will be? 



#47 renzmann

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 19:36

It depends how you define greatness. Personally, in sports I tend to think of greatness in terms of heroics. I'd say 2021 made Verstappen more of a legend than 2023. By that standard, numerous other drivers and seasons come to mind of course. This is why I think it's fair to say you shouldn't rank drivers of different eras (as others have pointed out). Every driver that did something incredible deserves a mention in the F1 history books, next to other greats.

 

Another sense of greatness would be perfection, or being close to perfection. According to this definition, Verstappen's 2023 was the best season ever, and probably always will be. He has crushed all relative records (% wins, points, laps led,...), and some of them were decades old. With seasons getting longer and longer, I don't think anybody will ever break those records again. Future drivers with Verstappen's talent will need a better team, a better car, more luck, less competition,... And I can't see that happening.



#48 Beri

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 20:09

I cant stress enough how much this 2023 effort of Max Verstappen is one that I define as the greatest ever. The sheer amount of races in combination with the high stress levels and the absurd amount of physicality a driver nowadays must possess, to be fit enough to even manage 10 laps, is insane compared to olden days. To perform on such a level and win 23 races, of which 19 Grands Prix, during Grand Prix weekends, is unheard of and mesmerizing. 

 

Yes I am Dutch. But by far I am a Verstappen fan. Yet no one in their right mind will deny that this was simply a jaw dropping performance.



#49 noriaki

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 20:10

I don't think it's recency bias when there are no examples of a driver winning a higher % of races.

 

Myself I feel you have to split this conversation in two. Dominant campaigns and battles.

From a pure dominance perspective it's a season that's up there with Clark and Schumacher's strongest years. But I prefer the ones that involved a legitimate title fight & the nerves of wheel-to-wheel racing for the championship.

 

Not Max's fault this season did not deliver him a circumstance to do this in, mind you. But it is what it is.



#50 Gravelngrass

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 20:20

Huge car advantage, unrivalled reliability and a lame duck team mate. His performance in 2021 was far more impressive.

I don't agree with this season not being great, but, as the OP said, there was not much that truly stood out in terms of drives that really impress.

 

And I agree that 2021 was better in that sense. Just the qualifying lap at Jeddah was better than anything I saw this year in terms of raw on the limit driving. Having said that, the consistency of this year is downright scary and, although not as spectacular, also very difficult to achieve.