Max Verstappen believes the high skill level of multiple drivers in motorsport doesn’t get acknowledged often enough after fac ing different rivals in championship battles over the last two years.
Lewis Hamilton was Verstappen’s main title opponent in 2021, in a fight that went right to the wire, but then it was Charles Leclerc who put up the biggest external challenge to the Dutchman over the past 12 months. Having raced both in different scenarios, Verstappen says people don’t always appreciate the standard across different categories, not only Formula 1.
“Everyone is different in the way that they battle and they race,” Verstappen said. “But that’s the beautiful thing about the sport, because if everybody was the same then it would be pretty boring. Yes, you have a lot of good drivers but if they all act exactly the same it’s not really exciting to watch.
“So that’s why I think we have to appreciate the enormous amount of talent we have in the world and especially of course also in Formula 1.”
Verstappen believes his own level of performance was influenced by the way the 2022 season started, as he found himself on the back foot due to multiple reliability-related retirements.
“I think as a driver you learn from every single year — you get more experience and you look at what you can do better. Anyway, you know that when you have to fight for a title you have to score points every race as much as you can — that’s why (at) the beginning of the year it was very tough to have these DNFs.
“I knew from that point onwards that I couldn’t afford any mistakes from my side, in case we would have a retirement for whatever reason. So you always try to be as clean as you can be and try to be as perfect as you can every single weekend. It’s what I try to demand from myself every time I jump into the car.”