Max Verstappen admits he is aiming for a third consecutive Formula One world championship next season, but knows it will not be an easy feat.
The Dutch Red Bull driver secured his second title weeks ago in a campaign that became increasingly straightforward after Charles Leclerc’s early challenge faded away amid driver inconsistency and reliability problems at Ferrari.
Towards the end of the season Ferrari fared a little better and last weekend at Sao Paulo, another of Red Bull's rivals - Mercedes - won their first and only Grand Prix with George Russell’s triumph.
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In the aftermath of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, won by Verstappen just as he did in 2021 in last season’s title-winning finale, both Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and Ferrari’s Leclerc said they were aiming to use the close season to regroup and improve in order to make a better fist of a title challenge in 2023.
Perhaps mindful of his competitors strengthening, Verstappen acknowledged how difficult it would be to repeat his success next year.
“It was a good race, it was all about tyre management, we looked after the mediums quite well,” he said to Sky Sports. “[It’s] incredible to win again here and the 15th win of the season is unbelievable.
“It’s been really enjoyable to work with the whole team and achieve something like this.
"I know it will be hard to achieve this again, but it’s really good motivation.”
Team-mate Sergio Perez missed out on second place in Abu Dhabi as well in the drivers’ championship as he was unable to get past Charles Leclerc at the Yas Marina circuit.
After the race, Perez said that fine margins were to blame for him missing out on second place, but accepted the outcome.
He, too, aimed for improvement next season, and there was no mention of an eventful week that had seen him clash with Verstappen after last weekend’s failure to give up a spot for him in the pursuit for second place overall.
Perez stated: “It’s how it is, everything can be really close. At the end of the day I can be happy, I gave it all, we gave it all, and I’m sure we’ll come back stronger next season.
“Certainly we had great moments, great battling. I struggled with the tyres a little bit in terms of managing the tyres in the race and hopefully that is something we can improve for next season and come back stronger.”
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