Max Verstappen can start the race in the parking lot. He'll still win.
Max Verstappen is the defending Formula 1 champion and is well on his way to a second consecutive title. But while last season's championship came with a healthy serving of controversy that will be debated until the end of time, this season, Verstappen is dominating at a level rarely seen before, if ever. This past weekend's race in Spa, Belgium was a perfect example of that.
To understand how fast Max Verstappen has been in his Red Bull car this season, you have to understand a few principles. First, understand that teammates are using the same machinery. Verstappen and Sergio "Checo" Perez should theoretically be able to switch cars and produce similar results once the cars are adjusted for each driver's little preferences. You should also understand that Red Bull, this season, has an incredibly fast car that would likely be at or near the front of the pack even if Verstappen was swapped with a different driver. They've built a rocket ship. And finally, understand that, in Formula 1, starting positions are crucial due to how difficult it is to make passes on race day. The qualifying round can make or break a team.
Ok. Now that all that is in your head...
No One Can Hang
Verstappen is a certified teammate-destroyer. Not in a bully/locker room issues kind of way, but in terms of performance. Teammates in Formula 1, especially those in the elite teams, are usually fairly close to one another on the track, hence why they're usually together for a while. Red Bull on the other hand, has given Verstappen four different teammates over the past five seasons (Alex Albon, Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo, and the aforementioned Perez), and none have been able to stick around because, well, they just can't stick around with Max. In the same car. Sergio Perez is an excellent driver, but will Verstappen's singular ability be too much for him to contend with after a while?
He Can Spot You 13 Positions
Drivers in Formula 1 are happy if they jump from P8 at the start to P4. Jumping four spots in a car of that length on a narrow track with 19 other drivers going upwards of 200 MPH is very good. To do what Max Verstappen did this past week (he started in 14th place after a penalty and wound up winning the race by nearly 18 seconds) is ludicrous. Mind you, this was after starting the preceding race in 10th...and also winning that one. He's gained 22 positions across two races, both victories. Since the start of F1, only one other driver has won consecutive races starting 10th of lower: Bruce McLaren in the '59-'60 season. Mad Max is a comet right now.
Max Verstappen has reached a pace not often seen in motor sports. Appreciate his continued greatness as he races in front of his home crowd in the Netherlands for the Dutch Grand Prix. Watch it on ESPN this Sunday at 9 AM.