Max Verstappen lays 'foundation' for 2023 F1 title defense with Abu Dhabi test

Formula 1 Testing in Abu Dhabi - Day One
Max Verstappen looks on in the garage during Formula 1 testing at Yas Marina Circuit on November 22, 2022, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Max Verstappen has already begun laying the foundations for his 2023 F1 title defense by testing next year's tires in Abu Dhabi. The two-time world champion took part in the Pirelli tire test on Tuesday and put in 76 laps in the championship-winning RB18.

Max Verstappen is now the highest paid Formula 1 driver earning a salary of $40m and bonuses of $20m. Lewis Hamilton earns a total of $55m per year, Fernando Alonso $30m and Sergio Perez $26m. Charles Leclerc earns $23m, Seb Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo both earned $17m #F1

Max Verstappen has had more success than he or Red Bull could have hoped for in the 2022 season. The Dutchman won the season with four races remaining, thwarting his opponents in dominant fashion. Ferrari posed a significant title challenge to the 25-year-old in the first half of the season but dropped off soon after due to a string of mechanical and reliability issues. In typical champion fashion, Verstappen has now set his eyes on his 2023 title defense by putting in 76 laps on the updated Pirelli tires for next year.

The Dutchman said after the 2022 Pirelli tire test in Abu Dhabi:

"We have completed our programme and have thus laid a first foundation for next year. I think it all went very well. It's always nice to be able to do some laps on a new tyre construction, but of course the tyres behave differently on every track. That's why it's hard to judge. That said, it's always better to have some data than no data. All in all, everything went normally. A good day, then."

Max Verstappen's Abu Dhabi win lauded by Damon Hill

Former F1 world champion Damon Hill felt that it was the right way to end the 2022 season with Max Verstappen dominating the last race of the year in Abu Dhabi. Verstappen started the race in pole position and was never in trouble as the Red Bull driver secured his 15th win of the 2022 season. The Dutchman performed in a Schumacher-esque fashion, dominating the rest of the field with ease.

Max Verstappen on his future in F1 🗣️#F1 #MaxVerstappen

Speaking to Sky Sports after the race, Hill said:

"It was the right way to end. He has been dominant, fantastic. He really has looked so polished. You always learn, are always developing, but he has been so complete right from his very early days. He had the impetuousness a little bit when he first came in but he didn’t need to display that this year. He just needed to use his head, which he did."

The young Dutchman managed to extend his record for the highest number of race wins by a single driver in a season - with 15 - in Abu Dhabi, making him the man to beat for future generations. 2022 was certainly Max Verstappen's year but it will be interesting to see if the Dutchman can maintain his reign of dominance next year.

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Edited by Anurag C
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