Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel, two of the most accomplished drivers in the history of the Red Bull team, have more in common than one would usually think. The two drivers were young prodigies who were picked up by the Austrian outfit and backed at a very young age.
The two drivers were thrust into the top Red Bull team very early and were able to challenge their experienced teammates (both of them Australian coincidentally). The comparisons, however, don't end there as both drivers seem to have a lot more in common with their maiden championship triumphs as well.
In this piece, we'll take a look at the similarities between Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel's first championship campaigns.
#1 Both Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel had their campaigns derailed by misfortune
Both Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel were not the luckiest of drivers during their maiden championship campaigns. Vettel, on his part, suffered from reliability concerns throughout the season. In the 2010 season, he lost a certain race win in Bahrain followed by another one in Australia and then another hard-earned win that was taken away in Korea.
That's more than 50 points lost due to no fault of his own. In comparison to the relatively smoother campaign put together by Fernando Alonso, the stark contrast in the championship campaigns between the title protagonists becomes evident.
Similarly for Max Verstappen, the 2021 season featured a crash at the British Grand Prix, getting wiped out in Valtteri Bottas's melee at the Hungarian GP, and a late-race puncture at Baku. A championship that Verstappen could have wrapped up with a few races to spare got stretched to the last race because of the misfortune faced by the Red Bull driver.
#2 Both had their driving standards questioned during the season
Sebastian Vettel was famously termed the 'Crash Kid' by Martin Whitmarsh after he clashed with Jenson Button at the Belgian GP. Vettel had shown the propensity to get involved in a few too many incidents in 2010, and even his teammate Mark Webber was not spared, with that famous crash in Turkey.
All of the comments did ultimately mean nothing as the German was able to silence the naysayers by winning the title at the last race of the season.
Max Verstappen, in the 2021 season himself, had a few too many incidents where his driving standards were brought into question by the entire paddock. His incident with Lewis Hamilton at Monza, where both the drivers retired on the spot, or their clash at the Brazilian Grand Prix amongst others, brought into the spotlight the Red Bull driver's ultra-aggressive approach to racing.
That approach led to speculation that Verstappen could force an accident against Hamilton if that helped him in winning the championship in Abu Dhabi. Fortunately for everyone, the last race of the season did not feature any question marks on the Red Bull driver's driving standards, at least.
#3 Both had the momentum against them before the last race of the season
Going into the last race of the season both Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen didn't have momentum on their side. For Sebastian Vettel, losing out on a certain race win at the Korean GP was heartbreaking as it meant another race where the German had done all the hard work necessary but lost out in the final moments because of the machinery. Vettel was, in essence, just an outsider in the championship battle at that point and even in the last race, needed Alonso and Webber to trip over themselves for him to win the title.
Max Verstappen was in a worse predicament as Lewis Hamilton seemed to have a much better car at his disposal and had won three consecutive races to wipe out the championship lead. To add to this, the entire negative PR against Verstappen regarding his driving style should have been debilitating for the young driver.
In the last race of the season, he had to beat Hamilton, a seven-time world champion, in a faster car with superior straight-line speed. Additionally, he had to do all of this in his first-ever title battle. In essence, if Verstappen had imploded and lost the plot, not many would have blamed him afterward.
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