Max Verstappen’s F1 reign: Who might overthrow his dominance?

Photo of Max Verstappen gearing up for the upcoming season.

Max Verstappen, the Dutch driver, with his skillful maneuvers and consistent podium finishes, has established a formidable dominance in the pinnacle of motor racing. Max Verstappen has left minimal opportunities for his competitors this season. Nevertheless, his adversaries are resolute in avoiding secondary roles. With 19 triumphs out of 22 Grands Prix, Verstappen has monopolized attention this season, eclipsing even his teammate Sergio Pérez, who faced challenges in the RB19.

However, such absolute dominance results in predictability and wanes viewer enthusiasm. The query remains: who will rise as a formidable contender against the Dutchman in the forthcoming seasons?

Title contenders

Max Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Pérez

While it’s accurate that the Red Bull stands out as the best-performing car on the grid, it’s important to note that Max Verstappen is not the sole driver in control! His teammate showcased his skills in the first two Grands Prix of the season, clinching two victories and strengthening his belief in the championship race.

Nevertheless, Checo Pérez encountered a setback at the Miami Grand Prix, resulting in a period of uncertainty and a decline in performance. With the appropriate mental preparation and an enhanced understanding of the car, could the second Red Bull driver emerge as a genuine contender against Verstappen?

In 2016, Nico Rosberg demonstrated what it takes to challenge the dominance of a teammate (Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes) and proved that it was indeed a feasible feat.

Lando Norris Radiates Confidence in his McLaren Stint

Following a period of being on the defensive for several years, McLaren orchestrated a remarkable turnaround in the season. The team’s drivers, Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, consistently competed for pole position on Saturdays and notably secured the highest non-Verstappen driver position on Sundays towards the season’s conclusion. Should the Woking-based team maintain its current trajectory, Lando Norris appears set to emerge as a formidable contender in the championship next year.

Despite facing unexpected rain in Russia in 2021 and lacking a victory in his record, Norris has illustrated over six F1 seasons that he can capitalize on accessible opportunities with his McLaren. Further enhancements in performance and reliability would establish him as a credible candidate for victory.

Charles Leclerc in Need of Consistency

Initially hampered by Ferrari’s lack of reliability at the season’s outset, Charles Leclerc concluded the year on a high note, consistently showcasing his skills with two pole positions and three podium finishes in the final month.

Despite his car’s impressive top speed, it fell short of translating his on-track performances into victories against Max Verstappen. As is often the case with Ferrari, the devil lies in the details. Expressing his frustration, the Monegasque driver remarked, “There were several occasions when we were in a good position, and we left points on the table.”

Leclerc faced forced retirements three times, got disqualified in the United States, and couldn’t start in Brazil. The key factors for his championship aspirations in 2024 revolve around the sustained performance and reliability of his car.

Top Contenders for Victory

Lewis Hamilton

The seven-time world champion has recently gone through two seasons without securing a win, an unprecedented occurrence since entering F1 in 2007. Nonetheless, his skills remain undiminished, showcased by his pole position in Hungary and six podium finishes. To pursue victory in 2024, he will need a more powerful Mercedes.

Carlos Sainz

Operating the Ferrari, the Spanish driver emerges as the sole competitor to disrupt Red Bull’s dominance this season through tactically executed races. Sainz holds the potential to vie for victory, particularly when he delivers a strong qualifying performance.

Oscar Piastri

Recognized as the standout rookie of the season, the Australian showcased impressive capabilities in his debut with McLaren. While his sprint race triumph fueled his ambitions, there is room for improvement in race management. Nevertheless, his two podium finishes in Grand Prix races underscore his reliability as a contender.

Fernando Alonso

The two-time Spanish world champion unexpectedly became the season’s highlight following his arrival at Aston Martin. With eight podiums, he nurtured aspirations of clinching victory this year. Whether he attains this in the upcoming season hinges on Aston Martin’s ability to sustain its performance level.

Hinging on Verstappen’s Errors?

As highlighted by numerous adversaries throughout the season, Verstappen seems nearly invincible. “The Red Bulls are too quick. Unless they make a mistake or something happens…” observed a resigned Norris before securing the second spot on the podium at the Japanese GP.

Thus, beyond their own driving skills and their cars’ capabilities, contenders aspiring to challenge Verstappen for the 2024 title must also consider the potential for the Dutchman to encounter setbacks. In a 24-race calendar, achieving a flawless record is an improbable task, even though the reigning champion has demonstrated exceptional skill in steering clear of issues.


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