Double world champion Max Verstappen has ended his historic 2022 Formula 1 season with an exclamation.
His 15th victory of the season in the final race of the year sealed a near-perfect campaign for the Dutchman.
He is a two-time F1 world champion, joining greats like Mika Häkkinen and Fernando Alonso.
But what Verstappen has achieved this season is arguably the greatest performance of any world champion.
He dominated the field with a record-breaking 15 victories over 22 races, wrapping up his second championship with four grands prix remaining, and taking wins from as low as 14th on the grid.
No driver has had more wins in a single season or scored more championship points.
And while these stats have been inflated by F1 holding more races and scoring differently than it has in decades gone by, few world champions have won their title as emphatically as Verstappen.
Michael Schumacher’s 2004 triumph and Sebastian Vettel’s 2013 championship are the nearest examples of dominance in the past 20 years.
Verstappen’s is a performance that should see the Dutchman thought of by fans in the same regard as Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and Vettel.
And he almost needed a season as dominant as this in the wake of his controversial first championship the year before.
He was the beneficiary of a safety car ruling at the end of the final race of the season, allowing him to overtake Hamilton on the final lap to win the race and championship.
His championship was also clouded after Red Bull was found to have breached F1’s cost cap for the 2021 season.
While it was only a minor breach which appeared to be the result of an unclaimed tax break and food allowances for staff, it still added to the controversy.
But in 2022 there is no debate that Verstappen is the man in F1 — assuming Red Bull’s accountants get their maths right.
However, the challenge will only get harder for Verstappen going forward.
Success is no guarantee in F1 and world championships are not a given right — just ask Alonso who won his second title way back in 2006.
Dominance in 2023 seems far fetched currently as all teams have a much better understanding of the technical regulations introduced this season.
Mercedes looked like their old selves towards the end of this season, finally collecting a win with George Russel in Brazil.
Ferrari had a very good car at times this year and they could be a threat if they fix their mechanical and tactical errors.
For now, F1 belongs to Verstappen — the latest driver to rightfully be considered one of the greatest of the sport.