Max Verstappen vs. Charles Leclerc: Why the New Title Rivalry Is So Different

Max Verstapen was finally able to overtake Charles Lecler with just four laps left in the Saudi Grand Prix.

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Max Verstapen was finally able to overtake Charles Lecler with just four laps left in the Saudi Grand Prix.

Max Verstapen was finally able to overtake Charles Lecler with just four laps left in the Saudi Grand Prix.

In the first two races, nothing happened yet after two flat-out contests between Max Verstapen and Charles Leclerc, as opposed to Verstapen’s occasional physical wheel-to-wheel fight with Lewis Hamilton last year.

There was a moment in their Bahrain dice where Leclerc got the DRS until the Red Bull Turn 4 and turned around to recover the lead. Leclerc turned the corner across Verstappen’s bow and if it had happened last year and if the other car had been a Hamilton, we would probably have hoped Max would refuse to yield and would have been contacted.

But not this time; He gave Lecler a place and a position. What? Has Verstappen adopted a different style?

Probably not. What a different situation.

Verstappen vs. Hamilton: Put down a marker

Last year, Verstappen was in a six-season car race for the first time in a career-defined fight for the World Championship that did not have the title-competing power. He has been doing it for so many years against the combined pitcher of Mercedes and Hamilton, the gold standard.

Verstappen had an element that kept his marker close to Hamilton, establishing a psychological upper hand that he would always win in any 50/50 situation, even if he was ready to crash without yielding.

Recover some of the most intense collisions of the track between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstapen last year.

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Recover some of the most intense collisions of the track between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstapen last year.

Recover some of the most intense collisions of the track between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstapen last year.

It seemed to be part of a war plan for the season when it was clear that the Red Bull was a good enough tool to give Worstapen a serious championship aspiration.

Although Worstapen was at F1 for six years and there were some incidents where he and Hamilton crossed the sword, it was never for real consequences. Hamilton admitted that he was not entirely sure how to handle Max’s aggression close-up, and that giving him space was the best way.

But that was to secure the Hamilton title at the time and the only way to lose them was not to finish regularly. He could have lost in a weird fight for track space. But when engaged head-to-head in a title contest, the dynamics obviously change – and at times Hamilton responds. Last year was the first year Hamilton and Verstapen felt each other right on equal terms.

Verstappen vs. Leclerc: 2022 Explaining Respect

But Verstappen and Leclerc have been going wheel-to-wheel since their karting days in childhood. They are more familiar with each other on the track and have even come to form something of a bond. They have raced against each other for a very long time, can read each other very well.

Many recall their controversial reunion for the final victory in Austria in 2019, where Verstappen hung Lecler on the exit curb.

As a young Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc argue in their karting days, the pair have now become the biggest rivals in the current F1 season.

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As a young Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc argue in their karting days, the pair have now become the biggest rivals in the current F1 season.

As a young Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc argue in their karting days, the pair have now become the biggest rivals in the current F1 season.

After the stewards ruled in favor of Verstappen, a Leclerc said he was now looking forward to racing Max in accordance with Austrian established etiquette and was as good as his word in Silverstone’s next race. There they staged an epic confrontation before Verstapen was delayed by Sebastian Vettel’s injury, occasionally rubbing the wheel.

So Verstappen and Leclerc are capable enough to get physically but no points are needed to prove it; They know each other old.

Anthony Davidson analyzes the war between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, a few years after the Red Bull and Ferrari driver were confronted at the Bahrain GP.

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Anthony Davidson analyzes the war between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, a few years after the Red Bull and Ferrari driver were confronted at the Bahrain GP.

Anthony Davidson analyzes the war between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, a few years after the Red Bull and Ferrari driver were confronted at the Bahrain GP.

Having a reputation for zero compromise, Verstapen actually runs according to the situation. Last year, when he drove Hamilton into Brazil’s Turn 4, after the latter was already ahead, it was done in the context of being a Mercedes, at that time of season, a much faster car. MEXICO – And with Brazil and Verstapen running out of ways to prevent it, it was likely that Hamilton would win the rest of the race.

There was a frustration for that move, born out of the possibility of losing the world title that he had waited so long to achieve, that it was moving away from him.

Max Verstapen says he and Charles Leclerc have mutual respect after their epic on-track war in Saudi Arabia.

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Max Verstapen says he and Charles Leclerc have mutual respect after their epic on-track war in Saudi Arabia.

Max Verstapen says he and Charles Leclerc have mutual respect after their epic on-track war in Saudi Arabia.

Now he is not in that condition. That frustration is not there, in Jeddah he touched something, saying, “Last year… when, as a child, you always dreamed, of course, try to be a Formula 1 driver and hopefully one day you win a championship, but that is achieved.

“The pressure to do this is gone. But you still want to run and win things. “

Do not mention the possibility of further Leclerc / Verstappen collisions. But this dynamic is very different from last year’s Hamilton and Verstapen.

Watch all Australian GP live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend, including races at 6am on Sundays.

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