Max Verstappen has hit back at criticism of his dominance and set the target of remaining unbeaten for the final nine races of the season.
The all-conquering Dutchman will become the first driver in history to win 10 consecutive races if he takes the chequered flag at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Verstappen has been in imperious form this year, winning 11 of the 13 rounds staged as he closes in on a hat-trick of World Championships.
With a lead of 183 points heading into this weekend’s race in Monza there is a chance he could even close out the title with six rounds still remaining at the Japanese Grand Prix on September 24.
However, Verstappen’s emphatic streak has led to suggestions that the sport has become boring.
But responding to the accusations in an interview with the PA news agency, Verstappen, 25, said: “They cannot appreciate dominance or just people executing their jobs.
“It is nothing really new in Formula One, and I cannot do much with those kind of comments. Does it bother me? No. It would probably be worse if they were talking about other stuff. I am enjoying what I am doing and I hope I can do it for a while.
“I don’t want it to stop. We have another good opportunity this weekend. I believe I can win every single race.”
Verstappen’s victory on his home track in Zandvoort – which drew him level with Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine straight wins – was among the very best of the 46 of his career so far.
At one stage, he was lapping four seconds faster than Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull, and two seconds quicker than anybody else.
His virtuoso display in the inclement conditions prompted double world champion Fernando Alonso to say Verstappen’s achievements are being underestimated.
“It is not about getting the recognition because I know how hard it is to do,” said Verstappen.
“If it was very easy, more drivers would have won nine in a row, and more teams would have done it, and that is not the case.
“It hasn’t been straightforward either. In Zandvoort especially, a lot of things could have gone wrong, and in the end we still handled that really well.
“I never thought I would get to nine. I remember watching Seb do it, and I was like, ‘Jesus Christ, that is extremely difficult’, and now I am here and it is amazing.”
Nine successive wins Max matches Seb’s record pic.twitter.com/pAqRTolRgC
— Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) August 27, 2023
Verstappen will share the grid with long-time rival Lewis Hamilton for at least another two seasons after the British driver signed a new £50million-a-year deal to remain with Mercedes.
The contract extension will take Hamilton beyond his 40th birthday, and provides the possibility of a championship rematch with Verstappen if Mercedes can somehow close the gap to Red Bull.
Hamilton, who was denied an eighth world title after race director Michael Masi failed to follow the correct rules in Abu Dhabi in 2021, alluded to “unfinished business” after signing his latest deal.
Twenty months on from F1’s most contentious race, does Verstappen – who, on new tyres, had to pass Hamilton on the final lap to take the title – feel his maiden championship triumph was tainted?
“It was not like it was given to me,” he said. “I still had to do it.
“People always have short memories and they can forget a lot of stuff very quickly.
“It was a great year, and we had a lot of great battles with two teams going at it and that was amazing for Formula One.
A title battle we will never forget
— Formula 1 (@F1) December 12, 2021
“But you will always have a winner, and you will always have a loser. That is how this sport works, and I was also ready to lose.
“It was a 50-50 chance and it fell my way. But in the future I could be in a situation where it doesn’t fall my way and that is how life goes.
“I don’t really care a lot about other people’s opinions. I only care about people that are very close to me so whatever people say or write, I am like ‘whatever’.
“I grew up my whole life wanting to be a Formula One driver and I will do everything it takes to try and be successful at it.
“I make my choices and my decisions and that is why I am very relaxed about these things. I go home, I switch off from Formula One, and I am happy with my career. And when I come back to the race weekends I do my thing, and that is it.”