Max Verstappen has dismissed suggestions that the dominance he and Red Bull have shown in the Formula One world championship this season is not appealing to fans.
The world champion called into question critics’ arguments that it was boring, arguing their success should be appreciated because he and the team were delivering on such a high level and that “real fans” would understand that.
Verstappen was speaking before this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, coming on the back of Red Bull’s first defeat of the season in Singapore. It is the only sign of weakness the team, who have been dominant all season, has shown.
The Dutchman has won 12 of the 15 meetings this season and Red Bull had been undefeated across the entire year until Singapore where they were off the pace and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz took the flag in a thrilling fight rather than with the ease Verstappen has demonstrated so many times this year.
Red Bull have still only been beaten twice in the last 26 races, the previous time being last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix. At Suzuka, when asked if he thought it was good for the sport that Singapore had thrown up a new winner, Verstappen summarily dismissed the notion.
“I have zero interest in that,” he said. “We got beaten and in a very clear way. I don’t think about what’s good for Formula One. I don’t think it was necessarily bad what was happening to Formula One, because we were just better than everyone else. If people can’t appreciate that, then you are not a real fan.
“That’s how it goes and that’s why I was super relaxed about it, because we didn’t perform and other people did a better job than us and of course they deserve to win. They shouldn’t win because people say it’s boring that we are winning.”
Verstappen cantered to the title last season and has been even more in control this year. He leads his teammate Sergio Pérez by 151 points in the championship and a win in Japan will all but seal the title which he would almost certainly claim at the next round in Qatar with five races remaining.
Red Bull are also almost certain to seal the constructors’ championship in Japan, to do so they must equal the points Mercedes score and ensure Ferrari do not outscore them by 24 points.
The poor result in Singapore is expected to be an outlier, a circuit which did not suit their car to which they struggled to adapt its setup. Suzuka is strongly expected to mark a return to form for the team, with the high-speed corners particularly favouring the RB19.
The four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel made a return to the F1 paddock in Suzuka to promote his support for biodiversity. Vettel has worked with a local carpenter to build 11 “insect hotels” on the inside of turn two. The kerbs have also been painted in black and yellow in homage to the bee which Vettel described as the “ambassador” for his project he has named Buzzin’ Corner and which he hopes to extend to other circuits in future.
“We all know one insect that is very famous, and it’s the bee, and the bee is yellow and black,” he said. “It’s perfect ambassador for this project and idea to highlight the importance of biodiversity because it stands not just for the bee, it stands for all the other insects.
His actions were welcomed by Lewis Hamilton who hoped they would act as inspiration to other drivers in F1 to connect with issues outside the sport. “It is great to see he has found his purpose,” Hamilton said. “In the history of the sport I don’t know any other driver that has ever been so outspoken and showing real compassion for the world outside of this little world we are living in. It’s great that he is utilising his platform, I always just hope that he inspires the other drivers to do something in their own lane.”