"It would have been an interesting fight to the end" - Max Verstappen was looking for a duel with Charles Leclerc before the latter's DNF at 2022 F1 Azerbaijan GP

Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen talk in parc ferme. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen talk in parc ferme. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Max Verstappen said he was looking forward to battling Charles Leclerc at the Azerbaijan GP had the latter not retired. The Red Bull driver felt the Monegasque was strong in the race, but that he could have closed the gap towards the end.

Upon being asked by Sportskeeda if he was worried about Leclerc’s strategy if he had continued to race, the Dutchman said:

“Well, as soon as we got out and they told me the gap, I think it was like 12-13 seconds, thats quite a bit of a gap to close. But then I saw his pace as like, I think, yeah. I was like, yeah, lets see if we can fully close that gap. I had confidence that with the car we had today and the pace we had that it would have been an interesting fight to the end.”
It hurts again. But I’ll never give up.

Despite clinching pole position and eventually leading the race, Leclerc retired due to a power unit failure on lap 20. The Ferrari driver lost his lead to Sergio Perez at the start of the race, however, he grabbed the lead back when the Mexican pitted for tires. Running ahead of Max Verstappen, the 24-year-old had built a decent gap over the Red Bull champion. While the gap could have been closed, Leclerc's unfortunate retirement denied the Dutchman a duel with his sparring partner of the season.

Max Verstappen says Charles Leclerc’s streak of bad luck is part of the game

The reigning world champion empathized with Charles Leclerc over his misfortunes over the last two weekends, but felt such scenarios were normal in F1. Max Verstappen said that he went through the same thing at the start of the season.

Commenting on Leclerc’s streak of bad luck, he said:

“I would always say sh*t happens. Yeah, thats racing. You know, it happened to me, it happened to many people in the past. Unfortunately, its happening to Charles [Leclerc]. Yeah. If I were in the same situation I would also be disappointed. I think thats very normal. ”

He went on to say that it's about what you learn from these tough moments. He said:

“But yeah, its about how you come out of it. You always look at how to improve things. Thats what we did as well in the beginning of the season. You learn from it, you dont like it, youre angry, but we turned it around, but you always have to stay on it because something else might happen and you always have to prevent these issues from happening.”

The Azerbaijan GP race resulted in Max Verstappen extending his lead over Leclerc. He now has a lead of 34 points over the Ferrari driver in the championship.

It will be interesting to see whether Charles Leclerc can end his losing streak in Canada next week.

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Edited by Anmol Gandhi
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