Formula One's media has gradually been running out of adjectives to describe Max Verstappen's dominance this year, but the statistics of his phenomenal 2023 season speak for themselves.
Below is a list of some of the more staggering records set during the Red Bull driver's runaway title campaign this year, and the context in which they sit within the sport's history books.
The record: With 19 victories, Verstappen obliterated the previous record for wins in a championship season, which he himself set afresh at 15 last year. The record prior to that had stood since 2004 at 13 for Michael Schumacher's final championship year with Ferrari and was equalled by Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull in 2013.
The context: Only 17 drivers in the sport's history have scored more than 19 wins in the entirety of their time in F1, let alone in a single season. A number of surprisingly big names fell short of 19 wins during their career, including Stirling Moss (16 career grand prix victories), Jenson Button (15 victories), Emerson Fittipaldi (14 victories) and Alberto Ascari (13 victories).
Of course, in Moss' and Ascari's day there were often no more than eight championship rounds in a year (one of which was the Indy 500) and a great deal of non-championship races that they won on top.
It's also true that there weren't even 19 races in a season for the vast majority of F1's history, with the first 19-race calendar in 2005 and a 19th race only becoming a regular fixture from 2010 onwards. Nevertheless, winning 19 races in a single season is pretty much unheard of and also accounts for over 35% of Verstappen's own career victories, which now stand at 54.
The record: Perhaps a fairer way to compare dominance in a single season across decades is win percentage. Verstappen won 86.35% of the races in 2023, eclipsing the record previously held by Ascari from 1952, which stood at 75% (six of the eight races that year).
The context: Even viewed as a percentage, it could be argued that the comparison between Ascari's eight-race season (one of which was the Indy 500 that he didn't compete in, raising his true percentage to 87.5%) and Verstappen's 22-race season is pretty tenuous. A more modern example -- that just so happens to be third on the list of highest win percentages in a season -- is Michael Schumacher's 72.22% from 2004, which saw him win 13 of the 18 races that year.
The record: Max Verstappen scored 575 of the 620 points on offer in 2023 -- another new record that eclipses the 454 points he scored last year and the previous record of 413 held by Lewis Hamilton from 2019.
The context: Given the changes to the points system over the years and the growing calendar (including the addition of points-scoring sprint races) the number "575" doesn't mean a huge amount. However, when you consider Verstappen scored 92.74% of the points on offer, it helps to underline the level of his dominance in a historical context.
What's more, Verstappen scored over double the points of teammate Sergio Pérez (284), who finished second in the drivers' championship, and 166 more than the Mercedes team as a whole, which finished second to Red Bull in the constructors' championship. Added to that, Verstappen's tally at the Belgian Grand Prix in July (before F1's summer break) would have been enough to secure this year's title.
The record: Verstappen won 10 races between the Miami Grand Prix in May and the Italian Grand Prix in September, beating the record of nine previously held by Vettel from 2013.
The context: Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff described the record as nothing more than an entry in Wikipedia, but the vast majority of the F1 paddock recognised the true significance of going 10 races unbeaten. Arguably the record was linked in some way to Perez's inability to put up a fight in the sister car, but the dominance and reliability of the Red Bull/Verstappen package should not be underestimated.
The run came to an end at Red Bull's only bogey circuit, Singapore, before Verstappen racked up another seven in a row to finish the season -- a number he could quite conceivably extend to a new record in 2024.
The record: Verstappen secured this year's title at the Qatar Grand Prix sprint race in October, meaning there were still six grands prix (including that Sunday's grand prix in Qatar) still to run. The record for winning the title with the most grands prix remaining matched Michael Schumacher's record of six from 2002, despite a different points system and four fewer races in 2002.
The context: Verstappen became the first F1 driver in history to win a title at a sprint race, adding a footnote of peculiarity to his remarkable season. F1's shortform format also meant there were more points on offer at the final six rounds, with sprints also occurring at the rounds in the U.S. and Brazil, only adding to the gravity of his achievement and the difficulty of securing it so early in the season.
Sprint format or not, winning with a quarter of the grands prix left to run is always an impressive feat.
Largest and average winning margin
The statistic: Verstappen's largest winning margin of the year came at the Hungarian Grand Prix, where he finished 33.731 seconds clear of Lando Norris in second place. His average winning margin across his 19 wins (minus the Australian and Dutch Grands Prix where late red flags cut his advantage) was 13.363 seconds. Neither are records, but the stat still says a lot about his dominance.
The context: Verstappen won six races by over 15 seconds this year and there were only eight occasions when he won by less than 10 seconds. In most cases, however, he wasn't under threat and therefore could choose to extend or shorten the gap at his leisure -- and often depending on whether his race engineer felt a late safety car might put his win in jeopardy.
The truth is that we will never know exactly how big the average gap to second place could have been had Verstappen pushed to the max every race, but you can guarantee it would be a good deal higher than 13.363s.