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Verstappen to the Max in 2022

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More dominant and a lot less controversial, Max Verstappen's second Formula One world championship was very different to the first.

The 25-year-old Red Bull driver may start 2023 as favourite for a third, but the chances are he will face more of a challenge than in 2022.

The Dutchman never had it so good, coming back from two retirements in the first three races to turn around a massive 46 point deficit and finish with a record 15 victories from 22 grands prix.

He scored more points in a season (454) than anyone ever before, and nine of the wins were not from pole position.

Belgium was perhaps the most satisfying victory of all from 14th on the grid.

"We won the drivers' (title), and the constructors', we had a lot of victories as a team, so I would say this one is better and more rewarding. But the first one will always be more emotional," he said.

Verstappen made it successive titles with four races to spare, a marked contrast to 2021 when he entered the final race in Abu Dhabi level on points with Mercedes' seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton.

That first title owed much to a controversial late change to the safety car procedure but this time there was a sense of inevitability as Hamilton, 37, endured his first season without a victory and finished a career low sixth overall.

The fans lapped it up, with races sold out and viewing figures soaring. There were memorable moments, not least the spectacular crash of Chinese rookie Guanyu Zhou whose Alfa Romeo flipped upside down and over the tyre wall at Silverstone in an accident that ripped off the roll hoop but left him unhurt.

It was Red Bull's best ever season — 17 wins and five one-two finishes bringing a fifth constructors' title and ending Mercedes' record run of eight in a row.

It was also bittersweet, the team title secured a day after the death of billionaire owner Dietrich Mateschitz.

Red Bull were also punished for breaching the budget cap in 2021 — a big talking point — but have an impressive car to build on next year and stability with Mexican Sergio Perez alongside Verstappen.

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