FIA chief hints at Hamilton title support in Verstappen battle at prize-giving

FIA chief hints at Hamilton title support in Verstappen battle at prize-giving

FIA chief Ben Sulayem is hoping to see and co give a run for his money in 2024. The Dutchman dominated the grid last season, becoming the first driver to break the coveted 500-point barrier en route to his third consecutive world title.

Red Bull team-mate looked as though he would challenge Verstappen in the standings after wins in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan at the start of the season. But the Mexican star quickly fell behind as Verstappen walked the championship.

It was even easier for Red Bull, who wrapped up the Constructors’ Championship at Suzuka, six races before the end of the campaign. Hamilton’s Mercedes came the closest to toppling the reigning champions in second place but even they were a staggering 451 points adrift of the top spot. 

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr was the only driver from a rival team to win a single Grand Prix in 2023 when he shocked the grid with a stunning victory in Singapore.

It’s safe to say it hasn’t been the most exciting year for neutrals and Sulayem is hoping for more competition in 2024. Speaking at the F1 Prize Giving Ceremony, he said: “So I will say well done and to more success to everyone, and not just you [Verstappen] to make it more interesting.”

Verstappen and Perez were both in attendance at Friday’s ceremony to collect their winner and runners-up trophies in Baku, Azerbaijan while Red Bull chief Christian Horner was there representing the Milton Keynes-based team.

Horner said: “It’s been the most amazing season for the team, breaking so many records, winning 21 out of 22 races and five out of six Sprint races… It’s something very, very special.

“It’s something that every man and woman within the team has contributed to behind the scenes to achieve this level of excellence. I think this award tonight is very much on behalf of all those men and women that we have within Red Bull Racing – they’ve done such an amazing job to support both drivers.

“Obviously Max joins very much the greats today. It’s a big evening for us, a big year for us, and I’m hugely proud of what we’ve achieved.”

Verstappen added: “It’s been incredible. It’s been great fun as well to work with everyone. We all want to win, we want to do the best we can, but when you’re travelling around so much all over the world you want to also do it with a great group of people, and we definitely have that at Red Bull.”