Max Verstappen, the reigning world champion and the clear leader in the drivers’ standings, is well on his way to retaining his crown. The RedBull driver has taken an 80-point lead over Charles Leclerc, which should, barring an unlikely turn of events, allow him to remain in the lead. Despite this, Verstappen is wary of tyre management, something he feels is his greatest problem this year.
After winning his first world championship title in a thriller last year, Max Verstappen is enjoying a quieter season. Despite a shaky start with two retirements in three races, the Dutchman got back on track and so did RedBull. Since then, Verstappen has caught up with Charles Leclerc and even dropped him. At the halfway point of the season, the reigning world champion has an 80-point lead over the Ferrari driver. A rather comfortable lead that should, barring any unexpected developments, allow him to retain his title.
Even when he is in an unfavourable position, Max Verstappen manages to turn the results around to his advantage. In Hungary, Charles Leclerc, who was first ahead of George Russell, had everything to win that Grand Prix.
In the end, however, Ferrari once again failed and Verstappen took advantage.
“I didn’t think I would win this race, I was hoping to be able to come back but the conditions were complicated. We had a good strategy, we always reacted well and made good pit stops. Despite my spin, I was able to win,
“I suffered a bit with the clutch, on the gear changes. It cost us a bit of performance and it surprised me coming out of that corner. I fought with a lot of drivers today (Sunday), it was very enjoyable. The race was crazy and I am happy to have won it”, he explained after the race in a statement published by L’Equipe.
Despite his large lead, Max Verstappen prefers to remain cautious.
“I don’t really care about the points gap. Because for me it’s about trying to be perfect every weekend. It’s not about starting to relax once you have that gap. I always want to win more races. And that’s what we’re going to try to do,” he said recently.
Even if everything is going well, Max Verstappen remains wary of tyre management.
“I think the main limitation is also the tyres. They had to bring in a tyre and they didn’t really know how much downforce we would have or how much weight the car would have,
“It was very difficult for Pirelli to have a full idea of what to expect or what they were going to get. From the beginning, when we were in Bahrain, we could feel that when we wanted to get up to speed, probably because of the weight of the car and the structure of the tyre, we lost a lot of speed in the corners,
“It’s not ideal but that’s why we have to work around this problem with the car to try and make it turn a bit better, which on some tracks is of course better. And on some tracks it’s more of a limitation because of the layout. I hope that next year we can do something about it,” said Verstappen.