Max Verstappen has revealed further details about how he plans to handle wheel-to-wheel battle with Charles Leclerc in 2022, as well as how it differs from his latest battle with Lewis Hamilton.
Max Verstappen has revealed that he is fighting Charles Leclerc differently than he did Lewis Hamilton previous season, and that racing against the Monegasque “feels more natural.”
At the first two races of the 2022 season, Verstappen and Leclerc had clear fights for win, with the Ferrari driver triumphing in Bahrain and the Red Bull racer bouncing back in Saudi Arabia.
Early contacts involving Leclerc and Red Bull team manager Christian Horner were “hard but fair,” according to Leclerc, who also emphasised the two racers’ mutual appreciation.
It comes after a tumultuous 2021 title battle, which saw Verstappen and Hamilton crash many times as the Mercedes/Red Bull rivalry soured.
Verstappen has a unique approach to each driver
When questioned if competing against Leclerc was different from racing against Hamilton, the Dutchman agreed.
“Every driver is different, in the way they attack or defend. That’s why you always have to go into the fight in a unique way,” Verstappen said.
He added: “It feels natural to compete against drivers that I have competed against in the past in karts and have now come to F1.
“In particular Charles; it’s nice to see that we are two young guys competing for victories – we’ve fought some nice duels so far.
“I’m [also] happy that my friend [Carlos] Sainz is now driving a competitive Ferrari, after we made our debut together in 2015.”
Why was there such a heated rivalry between Verstappen and Hamilton?
Last season, Verstappen and Hamilton fought at Silverstone, Monza, and Jeddah, as well as having other close encounters elsewhere, as their battle for the championship heated up.
Verstappen believes that as the season progressed, the developing rivalry between Red Bull and Mercedes spilled over and influenced the race.
“I think in the fight between me and Hamilton, the conflict between Red Bull and Mercedes also played an important role,” said Verstappen.
“In addition to everything that happened during the championship, that also inspired the confrontation on the track.”
Verstappen went on to say that he was never worried during the duel and that he didn’t seek special advice from anyone.
“Things don’t work when you have fear. I never thought about the risk of hurting myself. I was only focused on winning,” he said.
“I knew very well what to do and I didn’t need help from others. The experience gained from the previous years in F1 made sure that the best Max emerged.”
Charles Leclerc, F1, F1 2022, Ferrari, Formula 1, Grand Prix, Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton, Red Bull, Max Verstappen