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Former F1 driver underlines the 'difference' between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc in 2022

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen (left) and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc share a moment after qualifying for the 2022 F1 Austrian GP (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen (left) and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc share a moment after qualifying for the 2022 F1 Austrian GP (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Max Verstappen is driving fearlessly without any pressure in 2022 now that he is a world champion. That is the biggest difference between him and Charles Leclerc this season, according to David Coulthard.

Verstappen has been in superb form since 2021 and has continued in the same vein this year. The Dutchman's season started slow with two DNFs in the first three races. Since then, he has hardly put a foot wrong and has been fortunate even when the odd mistake has crept up.

After 13 rounds in 2022, Verstappen has eight wins and has been on the podium at every race he has finished barring this year's British GP. The reigning world champion has built up a formidable lead over his main title rival, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, in the process.

Coulthard feels Max Verstappen has been able to find a new gear to operate on this season because he has already achieved his goal in F1.

Speaking in an interview with Motorsport's Dutch affiliate, Coulthard recalled his conversation with Verstappen right after the 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi. The Briton said:

“What really sticks with me is that I had an interview with him immediately the day after Abu Dhabi. His manager Raymond Vermeulen wanted me to do the interview, but I was thinking before that ‘Oh god, this is the day after, how will that go?’ But once inside, there was a kind of striking, almost serene calm. Jos was very calm and Max [Verstappen] himself was also very calm. He then of course also said ‘everything that comes next is a bonus’. It is very easy for drivers to say something like that, but I believe that for Max it was sincere. His life goal was achieved and you can see that in his driving this year.”

Coulthard believes that Max Verstappen is fearless behind the wheel, something Charles Leclerc is not. He went on to add:

“Has he become faster? No, I don’t think so, because he was already very fast. Better than in 2021 is almost impossible in that respect. But is he more relaxed and mature? That one hundred percent. If you look at Charles [Leclerc], there is still a certain fear in his driving. That’s perhaps logical too since Ferrari left points they shouldn’t have left. But Max doesn’t make those few mistakes anymore and so they do make the difference. Max can even opt for the ‘spinning and winning’ tactic now.”

Max Verstappen will be 'very difficult to stop' in current form, claims Jacques Villeneuve

Max Verstappen is a machine that will be difficult to stop in the 2022 F1 season, according to former F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve.

With nine races left in the year, Villeneuve feels the Red Bull driver is on course to successfully defend his world title and no one on track can deny the Dutchman.

In his column for Dutch publication Formule1.NL after the 2022 F1 Hungarian GP, which Max Verstappen won despite starting from P10 and spinning his car during the race, the Canadian wrote:

“Max is a machine, really not normal. He wasn’t even tired yesterday, I don’t think he even needs a vacation! He’s driving so strong this year, the team doesn’t make mistakes. And when something goes wrong, he and Red Bull always provide the best conditions to put things right. Yesterday he could have limited the damage, he didn’t have to win but he does. That’s how they go into the race, don’t put any pressure on themselves but then play it excellently.”

Verstappen could now be on track to set a new record for most wins in a single season if he continues driving at this level. Sebastian Vettel holds the current record with 13 wins in 2013, en route to his fourth world championship with Red Bull.

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Edited by Anurag C
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