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

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

Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”