(Motorsport-Total.com) – Max Verstappen can still remember his last overall lead in a championship, although surprisingly it was quite a long time ago. “It was in karting in 2013. At that time I was leading the entire season,” the Red Bull driver looks back. Since then, the 23-year-old has never felt what it is like to say hello from the top of the table.
© Motorsport Images
Max Verstappen competes in a Formula 1 race for the first time as the world championship leader
In his only year in junior formula racing, in 2014 in what was then the Formula 3 European Championship, he did not enjoy an overall tour. At that time, Esteban Ocon secured the title. Just a year later, he went up to Formula 1, where it took almost six years before he climbed to the top of the World Cup in Monaco almost two weeks ago.
Verstappen recalls that he didn’t feel any particular pressure back then when he was karting. “You know what you have to do, but you are also dependent on the material. That was already the case in karting,” he explains. Even in Formula 1, he did not have the weapons to really fight for the title. But this season seems to be different.
VetteL. Good material gives you inner peace
But what effects does the new role of the hunted have on Verstappen? Is there any extra boost? Or is the pressure increasing? Former world champions in the field, who know this situation, give their opinion.
Bottas & Mercedes: is a year off in 2022?
Currently smells of a tense atmosphere between Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes. How’s it going for him? More Formula 1 videos
For Sebastian Vettel, from Verstappen’s point of view, it is much more important to have the material to be able to get involved in the fight for the title – and not the figures after less than a quarter of the season. “I think it doesn’t make a big difference at this point,” says Vettel, referring to the World Cup ranking.
“When you are in the competition, it gives you peace of mind. You know that you have a good car and a good team around you and that you can do the job,” the four-time champion continued. The only difference is that as a World Cup leader you always try to expand your lead. “But it is still very early, there are only five races around,” says Vettel.
Alonso: You don’t think in points that early
The two-time world champion Fernando Alonso also hits the same line. “At the moment, after five or six races, that doesn’t mean anything. It won’t change anything for Max or Lewis. When you’re in the last race, it changes something because it’s better to be in front. But in the sixth You don’t think races in points yet, “reports the Spaniard from his experience.
At least the starting position at this point in the season is unusual for Verstappen. The 23-year-old has never started a season so well. The mortgage of a bad start to the season does not weigh on him this year.
Photo gallery: Formula 1 technology: detailed photos at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2021
Hamilton currently sees the situation as completely relaxed. The seven-time world champion even seems to like himself in the role of the hunter. “I still hunt, you hunt all year round, whether you’re ahead or behind. It doesn’t feel any different to me,” he said before the sixth race weekend of the season in Baku.
Hamilton: “We are all hunters”
The World Cup protagonists are united by a common goal. “We’re all hunting the same goal, aren’t we? To win races and titles. That’s why we’re all hunters,” says Hamilton.
And what does the hunted say about it? Verstappen emphasizes that everyone in the team is focused on continuing the current run. “It is more important that we are at the front at the end of the season. But the atmosphere is very positive, everyone was happy after Monaco,” says the Dutchman, who asks us to continue: “We have to keep going and we have to be better than in the first five races. “