The star of RACER’s annual Champions Issue that’s now heading to mailboxes and available for digital subscribers is Formula 1 dominator Max Verstappen.
For us, there’s something refreshingly old school about the three-time champ and shatterer of F1 records.
Not for Verstappen the endless, micro-obsessing debriefs fueled by seemingly infinite amounts of available data. Instead, his interactions with Red Bull Racing’s engineering cadre are succinct, yet obviously effective: this is what I feel, and this is what I like/don’t like. The what and the how of making his car better is left to others, and Max’s next interaction with the process is climbing aboard and performing even more effectively.
Of course, the superiority of 2023’s Red Bull RB19 was such that the team rarely struggled to find its sweet spot, a misstep in Singapore being the obvious exception. And as RACER Formula 1 writer Edd Straw notes, Verstappen’s ability to be comfortable with the uncomfortable and to thrive at the edge of RB19’s performance envelope — that arcane feel thing again — meant that the sum of driver and car was even greater than the parts.
For six-time NTT IndyCar Series champ Scott Dixon, who provides some fascinating insight to our man Mark Glendenning, adaptability is a key to his incredible longevity at the top of open-wheel racing. He won his first title 20 years ago, and despite losing out to Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Alex Palou this time around, Dixon’s late-season form showed that the 43-year-old Kiwi is still very much one of the drivers to beat.
Next year, IndyCar introduces hybrid power. As always, rather than trying to bend the new tech to his will, Dixon will adapt to it — likely more quickly than anyone else — and no doubt be a major factor as he guns for that seventh title.
Also in this issue, we explore the debut season for IMSA’s GTP hybrids, celebrate Ryan Blaney’s first NASCAR Cup Series crown and look at the end of an era for Corvette Racing — all without getting bogged down in the data.
And the champions theme continues with insight on why two-time FIA World Rally champion Kalle Rovanpera is scaling back his schedule in 2024 and what Robert Wickens is planning next after his inspirational title win in IMSA’s Michelin Pilot Challenge TCR class.
Plus, how Toyota got the better of a whole wave of new opposition in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s headlining Hypercar class and who Eli Tomac feels he’ll need to beat to get back on top of Monster Energy AMA Supercross after his 2023 season-ending injury.
Beyond the 2023 champions, former NASCAR Cup Series champ Kurt Busch looks back on a dead-cert Hall of Fame career, we check out a weekend of bust to boom at Formula 1’s return to Las Vegas, and NASCAR ace Kyle Larson begins his journey to the 2024 Indianapolis 500.
Enjoy the issue, and happy holidays!