MAX VERSTAPPEN leads the world championship by 80 points with just nine races remaining this season.
Max Verstappen makes subtle dig at Lewis Hamilton in April
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Max Verstappen has revealed the difference between good and great F1 drivers is how they can cope under pressure. Verstappen said being able to compete in “very decisive moments” was a key factor in success in F1 and one of the most important times a driver “can make the difference” behind the wheel.
Verstappen sits in a dominant position with an 80 point advantage over Charles Leclerc as he closes in on his second world title. It means Verstappen can afford to retire from the next three races and still be ahead ion the standings.
Verstappen explained: “I think when a driver really comes into play, and what makes the difference, is in tricky conditions or when you are really fighting with another team, those last few percentages. There are so many good drivers out there in the world, even people who are not in Formula One. They might be driving in endurance [racing] but they are also very good and just because of random luck or just circumstances they didn’t get to drive in Formula One.
“But the ones who are in Formula One, between the good and the very good, is in these very decisive moments – if it’s a rain race or in general very difficult conditions, or in a very important qualifying session, to be up there. That’s when you can make the difference. Or score just a little bit more points than, let’s say, your team-mate.”
Last season, Verstappen crashed in qualifying at the penultimate Grand Prix of the season in Saudi Arabia as he looked odds-on for pole.
READ MORE: Charles Leclerc lays down gauntlet for title rival Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen is closing in on his second world title (Image: Getty)
However, he generally appeared calm and collected when up against Lewis Hamilton for the world title with his consistency playing a big part in his championship win. The Dutchman finished either first or second in every race he finished bar one in Hungary.
This season, the reigning champion has appeared calmer in his battles against Charles Leclerc. He took his time passing the Ferrari star in Jeddah to win this season and bounced back after two retirements from the first three races to take eight wins from 13 starts.
Meanwhile, Leclerc has appeared unstable as the pressure mounts on the Monegasque to deliver Ferrari its first crown since 2007. He dropped seven points at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix after a late spin while his crash at the French Grand Prix likely cost him victory and 25 points.
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Max Verstappen has won eight races so far this season (Image: Getty)
Channel 4 commentator David Coulthard has claimed this pressure is one of the major differences between Verstappen and Leclerc in this season’s title fight. He told Motorsport.com: “His life goal was achieved and that is reflected in his [driving] this year. Has he gotten faster?
“No, I don’t think so, because he was very fast. It is almost impossible to do better than in 2021 in that respect. But is he more relaxed and mature? That 100 per cent. If you look at Charles, there is still a certain fear in his driving. That may also be logical since Ferrari has left points that they should not have left behind. But Max no longer makes those few mistakes.”