Max Verstappen sets F1 wins record with 14th victory of the 2022 season

Max Verstappen F1 record
Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images

MEXICO CITY — It quickly became clear this would be the year that Max Verstappen set the record for most wins in an F1 season.

It was never a question of if the Dutchman would win 14 races.

It was only a question of when.

And now? By how much will Verstappen ultimately shatter the mark he shared with Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel?

Verstappen set the F1 record for wins in a season Sunday at the Mexico City Grand Prix with his 14th victory of the season. It broke the record set by Schumacher in 2004 and tied by Vettel it 2013.

Verstappen only shared the mark with the Germans for all of one week following his victory last Sunday at Circuit of the Americas in Texas. Paired with wins at Miami, Montreal and now Mexico City, Verstappen swept the North American portion of this year’s F1 schedule.

Just another day for Verstappen.

“I was never really interested in stats,” Verstappen said. “I always just live in the moment. I try to do the best I can every single weekend. I try to win races and that is the most important thing. I am not that interested in keeping up with every stat. It is amazing season and we are happy to be winning.”

Verstappen retained his F1 world championship with four races remaining in the season, clinched the constructors championship for Red Bull with three races remaining in the season, and has two races left to thoroughly demolish the wins-in-a-season record.

Red Bull has won nine consecutive races, tying the team record set in 2013. The team has won 16 of 21 F1 races this season with Verstappen and Sergio Perez, winner at Monaco and Singapore.

Lewis Hamilton finished second for the second consecutive week. He might have had a shot at his first win of the season, but Mercedes made the wrong call on a tire change that gave Verstappen control.

“We didn’t choose the right tire strategy in hindsight,” Hamilton said. “Nonetheless, to be this close to Red Bull makes me very proud of my team. We’re getting closer to the front, and we will continue to push. The last couple of races, we’ve taken a big step forward with the car and I hope we will continue like this for the final two.”

Perez finished third on his home track for the second consecutive year – earning deafening cheers even though a Mexican driver has yet to win at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Perez has been mobbed by adoring fans all week in his return. It began with a demonstration run in his hometown of Guadalajara before he arrived at the circuit, where Perez has been swarmed by crowds as soon as he enters the paddock.

He had to use a back route to get to the Red Bull garage each on-track session as drivers and teams complained most of the weekend that the spectators who had purchased paddock access were too aggressive.

But the fans love their native driver and, before the race, Perez took a ride around the track on the back of a convertible Volkswagen. He often held his hand to his heart to show his appreciation to the 120,000-plus fans.

“It’s been incredible, honestly,” Perez told the crowd in Spanish after the race. “Thank you for all the support you’ve given me this weekend. You’re incredible, the best fan base. Thank you.”

The three-day weekend sold out in two minutes earlier this year, and the three-day crowd of 395,902 broke the mark set last year of 371,779. F1 also said ahead of the race that it had extended its contract with the race – often voted most popular among fans – through 2025.

The day belonged to Verstappen, who started from the pole and won for the 34th time in his career. He held the lead at the start as Hamilton passed teammate George Russell for second and Perez also made it past Russell.

Hamilton might have raced for the win and was the leader when he pitted and Mercedes chose the harder, more durable tire compound. Verstappen had a softer and faster tire and Hamilton lacked the speed to challenge for the victory.

Hamilton has two more chances to avoid the first winless season of his career.

Pierre Gassly, meanwhile, earned another two penalty points for running Lance Stroll wide off track and the Frenchman is now one penalty point away from a one-race suspension.

Ford Mustang GT3 test has Austin Cindric dreaming of Daytona: ‘I want to drive that car’

Cindric Ford GT3 test
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Austin Cindric wasn’t the “mystery” test driver behind the wheel of the new Ford Mustang GT3 at Sebring International Raceway, but the Team Penske driver desperately wanted to be.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, an amateur sports car driver himself, made the big reveal via a Tuesday tweet that provided the first video evidence of the GT3 Mustang on track.

“I’ve watched the video in question about a million times,” Cindric said Wednesday during a Ford Performance Zoom news conference to promote NASCAR’s first road course weekend of the season at Circuit of the Americas. “Definitely exciting times for sure. I want to drive that car. It suits my experience level and also the relationships that I have.”

Ford will enter the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next season with its GT3 Mustang, entering a two-car factory effort (that will be managed by Multimatic) in GTD Pro and making customer cars available in the GT Daytona category.

That increases the likelihood of seeing more NASCAR drivers crossing over to IMSA. Cindric has been the only full-time Cup driver in the Rolex 24 at Daytona the past two years, but Ford Performance global director Mark Rushbrook has said the GT3 Mustang will provide more opportunities.

Ford has used its GT4 Mustang as a NASCAR driver development tool in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with Harrison Burton and Zane Smith combining to win the season opener at Daytona International Speedway in January.

“We’re excited about the Next Gen car and the new architecture there and the similarities between that car and GT3 and even GT4 cars,” Rushbrook said at the announcement of the Ford GT3 program in January 2022 at Daytona. “We think it’s a great opportunity and to do be able to do that in a 24-hour race and get NASCAR drivers even more time is something we need to consider taking advantage of that opportunity.”

Given his sports car background, Cindric probably still would be in the Rolex 24 regardless. He has eight IMSA starts since the 2017 season opener at Daytona, racing a Lexus RCF GT3 and Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the GT category. The 2022 Daytona 500 winner made his second LMP2 start this year with Rick Ware Racing.

But Cindric’s preference naturally would be in a Ford, particularly with sports car racing enjoying convergence and crossovers in both GT and prototype racing.

“It’s an exciting time in GT racing, just as it is now for prototype racing with a lot of new regulations and manufacturers building new GT3 cars,” he said. “And also the opportunity with WEC (the World Endurance Championship) and Le Mans and how that all lines up for that category of car. It’s definitely an exciting time. I want to be as much of a part of that as possible.”

Though those odds seemingly will increase with multiple Ford entries in the Rolex 24 field next year, Cindric said NASCAR drivers still have to put in the networking to land rides as he has in recent years.

“Now how (the GT3 Mustang) relates to specifically NASCAR drivers and how often they want to be in the Rolex, could it be an influence? Absolutely, as far as the tie-in with the manufacturer,” Cindric said. “But the challenge and the drive and the logistics of getting an opportunity for a race like the Rolex 24 will be just as challenging as it always is to find your one-off ride for the race. At least from my experience, that’s what I still anticipate.”

It turned out the “mystery” test driver wasn’t from NASCAR (Farley revealed the driver to be 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Joey Hand after a fan asked whether it was Joey Logano).

But Cindric believes there could be more Cup drivers — and perhaps himself — behind the wheel of Mustang GT3s in the future.

“There’s definitely more of a pathway than I think there would be before as far as Ford drivers are concerned,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to drive that thing. It’s obviously a great looking car. That’s the first box you’ve got to check. And it’s cool (to have) a guy like Jim Farley, no doubt he’s a racer just as much as he is steering the ship for Ford. It’s cool to see he’s just as excited as the rest of us about it.”