MAX VERSTAPPEN took a huge step towards another world title by clinching a valuable victory in France.
Max Verstappen makes subtle dig at Lewis Hamilton in April
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Max Verstappen believes that he could have his second world title sewn up with between three and five more Grand Prix victories this season. The Red Bull star took a giant leap towards the Drivers’ Championship at Circuit Paul Ricard on Sunday by winning the race, while neither of his main title rivals finished on the podium.
Ferrari ace Charles Leclerc qualified on pole for the French Grand Prix and weathered an early storm to build a relatively comfortable lead. But a cornering mishap saw him spin out of control and into the barriers, putting an end to his race and provoking a frustrated shriek over the team radio.
Verstappen stormed through to take a fairly straightforward victory in the closing stages, putting maximum points on the board while Leclerc ended up empty handed and Sergio Perez could only muster fourth spot.
With a resounding 63-point lead as we venture further into the second half of the season, the Dutchman told De Telegraaf: “Three to five more victories needed [to seal the title].”
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Max Verstappen believes he could clinch the world title with as few as three more race wins (Image: GETTY)
The chances of him making a dent in that total next time out in Hungary appear slim based on last year’s race. The 24-year-old took P9 after contact on the opening lap, so may be feeling somewhat apprehensive ahead of this year’s return.
During his epic title battle with Lewis Hamilton in 2021, he won the next two Grands Prix in Belgium and the Netherlands which, according to his estimation for this season, would take him to the brink of nailing down Championship number two.
From then on, however, it took Verstappen until the United States Grand Prix to notch his next victory. That’s currently pencilled in for October 23 this year, although it remains to be seen whether the Red Bull star can extend the advantage over his rivals in Italy, Russia, Singapore or Japan before that.
Leclerc has also been superb this year and is poised to go closer to the title than he has ever been before, but persistent issues with his Ferrari may end up costing him and team-mate Carlos Sainz too many points. The gulf in class and consistency is currently clear with Verstappen boasting seven wins for the season to Leclerc’s three, and nine podiums to Leclerc’s five.
Nevertheless, he expressed sympathy for his rival at Circuit Paul Ricard where the Ferrari ace looked to be mounting a meaningful challenge for victory.
Charles Leclerc was fuming after his Ferrari spun out at Circuit Paul Ricard (Image: GETTY)
“It would have been a really good battle to the end, unfortunately we never got to that, but luckily Charles is okay,” Verstappen told Sky Sports on Sunday. “Mistakes are easily made.
“I feel sorry for him of course. It’s not nice and he knows that. We’ve still got a lot of races to go and there will be a few tough weekends for us as well.”