Max Verstappen is one race away from a record-equalling ninth win in a row and the Red Bull Formula One driver is finding dominance also brings more motivation for the future.
The 25-year-old has questioned how long he might stay in the sport, saying last April in Azerbaijan that “sometimes you get to a point in your career where maybe you want to do other stuff”.
Since those musings at a race won by Mexican team mate Sergio Perez, Verstappen has won every grand prix to go 125 points clear at the top – the equivalent of five victories – and take his career tally to 45 wins.
Soon to be a triple world champion, Verstappen has a contract to the end of 2028 – by which time who knows how many wins and titles he will have.
He is in a league of his own at the moment, with 10 wins in 12 races and Red Bull on a record run of 13 in a row, including last year’s final round in Abu Dhabi, after Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.
“This keeps the fire going. If I have to rock up and I have no chance of winning then the fire starts to go away,” the Dutch driver said at Spa-Francorchamps.
Retired four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel is the only driver to have won nine in a row in a single season, with Red Bull in 2013.
The next race is Verstappen’s home Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort after the August break and Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said his driver was a once-in-a-generation talent.
“Like all the great drivers he just has that extra capacity. What we are witnessing and seeing at the moment is his ability to read the tyre, to read a race, to extract absolutely everything out of it,” he said.
“It’s great to see and he’s just at the top of his form at the moment.”
Horner spelt out clearly what Perez, whose form dipped after Baku just when it looked like he might be able to take the fight to Verstappen, can expect.
“I think that Checo (Perez) knows that barring a disaster for Max this championship is out of reach,” the team boss told reporters after Perez finished second in Red Bull’s fifth one-two of the campaign.
“So it’s about him maximising his own performance, not losing ground to any of the rivals behind and trying to pick up a few wins between now and the end of the year.”
Red Bull have yet to end a season with their drivers one-two in the standings and Perez’s task is to make sure he finishes runner-up this time.