FIA president makes feelings crystal clear on ‘punishing’ Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen wins third consecutive Formula One world championship

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem is crystal clear that he has no intentions to punish Red Bull star Max Verstappen for his F1 dominance. Verstappen has been in imperious form on the track once again this year and has already won this season’s F1 world championship after getting his hands on the 2021 and 2022 titles.

“It (F1 domination) has happened so many times – just look at [Lewis] Hamilton and [Michael] Schumacher,” Ben Sulayem explained. “It’s a bit harsh and not right to punish success.

“I’m open for suggestions if you think that there is a way to be fair and to be democratic, and not to just punish Max and his team or any other team. But I’m stuck like you. There’s no way that the FIA will punish success, and it (one driver dominance) has happened before twice in my time.”

Verstappen won his maiden world title by the narrowest of margins after overcoming Hamilton on the final lap of the final race after controversially being given the opportunity to pull level with the Mercedes man for a one-lap shootout following a pause for a Safety Car.

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But Verstappen’s second title win required no serendipity as the 26-year-old won 15 of the 22 Grands Prix. And he has proven to be unbeatable in the majority of races once again this time around as he has crossed the chequered flag in first position in 14 of the 17 races.

Verstappen’s recent dominance has coincided with regulation changes at the end of the 2021 season as teams were forced to redesign their cars. The Red Bull engineers have been the best in class as they have designed a vehicle that gives Verstappen and his team-mate Sergio Perez an edge over their rivals. And the Dutchman’s dominance shows no signs of wavering in the absence of further rule tweaks.

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Verstappen won this season’s title earlier this month after he clinched second place in the Qatar Sprint race the day before the Grand Prix. That left the blockbuster star in the unusual position of being able to celebrate a championship win before the main event of the weekend had even taken place.

And discussing his third consecutive triumph, the ace said: “The first one was the most emotional – that’s when your dreams are fulfilled. This has been my best year. Sometimes I am not happy with the performance or how the weekend was going but I always try to be perfect. I always try to be better every race weekend I go to.

“I analyse my performance race after race and the same this year. That’s why I think this year performance-wise is definitely the best one.”

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