Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Paul Ricard, 2022

Verstappen says his points lead over Leclerc is “bigger than it should be”

2022 French Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship standings is greater than it should be following his latest victory in France.

The Red Bull driver now enjoys a 63-point lead over closest rival Charles Leclerc, who crashed out while leading today’s race at Paul Ricard.

However he pointed out Ferrari had strong pace in France, where Leclerc ran competitively at the front and Carlos Sainz Jnr went from 19th to fifth.

“People are bringing upgrades and sometimes that also helps tyre degradation,” said Verstappen in today’s FIA press conference. “Today even with them sliding around a bit, they were still very quick in front of us. So it just shows that they have a very quick car.

“From our side we know that we have to find, especially over one lap, quite a bit of performance. But we’ll be working on it.

“It’s still very important to always score points even on a bad day, which we did in Austria. Of course the lead we have is great, but it’s probably a bit bigger than what it should have been when you look at the car performance between the two cars.”

Verstappen also expects the Hungaroring, the venue of next week’s race, will play to Ferrari’s strengths.

“It’s a great lead but a lot of things can happen and I just want to stay focussed,” he said. “We need a lot more good results. We still need more one-lap pace.

“Also the next race is Budapest, I think that’s going to be a bit more of a struggle for us where I think Ferrari is going to be really, really quick. But we’ll see. Again, it’s all about scoring points every single race, even when it’s not your day.”

Red Bull took useful lessons from the last race in Austria, where they fell behind Ferrari during the race, which improved their performance this weekend, said Verstappen.

“We learnt a lot from that weekend,” he said. “I think this weekend was a lot more competitive in the race.

“But we had pole in Austria and here we didn’t and I think we we have still quite a bit of margin to improve with the car. We just need to keep on working, keep on trying to understand our little weaknesses and try to make them stronger.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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34 comments on “Verstappen says his points lead over Leclerc is “bigger than it should be””

  1. Consistency is key and Max has it, while Ferrari does not. That gap might not be what it could have been, but I honestly couldn’t agree that Max and Red Bull haven’t earned it by simply being the better combination.

    If it’s not Ferrari strategy messing up, it’s Ferrari engineering, and if it’s neither of those two, it’s their drivers getting it wrong under pressure. It really is quite a team effort.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      24th July 2022, 18:28

      To be fair, Ferrari do have consistency…. Unfortunately they’re consistently finding ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!

    2. Well put, I see why Verstappen is saying this @sjaakfoo, as it is more or less every (other?) weekend that either has the pace to win it, but it is hardly ever entirely clear cut so it’s not an easy romp for Verstappen, they have to (start/assume/work) for a though fight. After the initial reliability problem for Red Bull they had a streak of being (a bit) faster and executed pretty well, then that lead kept increasing largely due to Ferrari dropping the ball, which means there’s now a sizeable buffer despite that. Just consistently plugging along is the right path for Verstappen and Red Bull (compare Rosberg keeping a pretty solid run through 2016 which in the end netted him the WDC even though Hamilton gained a lot over the 2nd half clawing close to 59 points back). A comfort for them should be that while Ferrari hasn’t been good at that, it’s something that Red Bull has been pretty consistently good at, and Verstappen rarely has had off weekends either.

      1. @bosyber – Well said!

  2. It could be smaller but it could also be bigger

  3. It’s boring watching this dominant car, with a clear number 1 driver, win every race, no driving skill is needed, my gran could win in that car, this driver is just lucky, he just gets it all handed to him on a plate, clear favoritism from the team and the officials, he’s a boring rich privileged playboy, etc. etc. etc.
    Who am I describing here? Answers please, on a stamped, addressed $1000 bill. :)

    1. Lewis Hamilton.

      1. Michael Schumacher at Ferrari. Or Verstappen this year. Oh, Prost (though there was quite a bit of drama in between) in 1993, Mansell in 1992. Can we go back further? Yeah, it’s still awesome to see them show their talent, but week in week out, it is understandable that many want to see more variation, especially with the races being almost every week now, rather than two-six weeks in between ;)

        1. Biker56's Gran
          24th July 2022, 19:32

          Hamilton for 6 out of his 7 championships

        2. Although again there might not be a battle for the championship, but we have a competitive car and driver fighting verstappen, so it’s not a walk over, it wouldn’t have been this race either if not for leclerc’s mistake.

      2. @bosyber
        He said dominant car. Max is well on his way to winning another title in lesser/equal machinery. :)

        1. Bla. Effectively, due to Ferrari errors, quite a lot of the time he doesn’t in the end have to fight for it, so maybe not entirely equal machinery (better straightline pace, better reliability, though bit less downforce) but certainly a superior team which makes the car effectively dominate at the end of the race ;)

        2. I definitely wouldn’t say “lesser”. If i were to pick one to say “lesser”, it would be the Ferrari, which has way worse reliability and both drivers already served penalties due to failures and were more pushed and pressured by the Red Bull than the other way around.

          1. Again, how can you say way worse reliability? Count the amount of mechanical failures for each team so far this year, it’s pretty even!

          2. It has been pretty much the same reliability between Max and Charles so far. Even if you count the RB DRS problem and the Ferrari throttle issue.
            The Ferrari for me is the slightly faster car overall, but not by much.
            Same as last year, Max had to be super consistent to overcome the extra DNF’s and Merc performance.

          3. How many times the Red Bull guys had to start from the back, virtually erasing their chances of a good result? I think it’s zero, right?

            I rest my case.

  4. It’s been very easy for him.

    A driver leading the race then crashing like that has become so uncommon that i refuse to praise someone just for bringing the car back in one piece. That’s the bare minimum for the top guys these days.

    Not his fault though.

  5. Red Bull is just working really well, and Verstappen’s retirements in Bahrain and Australia taken into account, have just done a great job even in races where they’ve been on the back foot. Where they were sharpened up by their battle with Mercedes, Ferrari is still contending with a team boss who openly says the aim of the season is not to fight for titles.

    It’s unfortunate that without Mercedes fighting for wins (on pace; at this level of consistency they’re almost inevitable to win at least one this year) there isn’t a more competitive season for viewers to follow.

    1. yes season is turning out to be a snoozefest joke one horse race. When It looked like Ferrari could challenge for the WDC with a fast car they torpedo their chances with stupid team errors, Ferrari trademark unreliability and race ending mistakes under pressure from Charles who is the only driver who can realistically challenge max in this two horse race season.
      It looks like the only driver if he had the car who can take the challenge to max is Lewis because every other driver folds under pressure to wunderkind.

      2021 season apart from the farce ending to the last race was a brilliant season with close racing, multiple winners and a great battle of two top drivers racing in almost equal pace machinery.

      2022 looks like it is already over before the summer break and only two teams winning races, Danny ric won at Monza Norris was laps away from winning last year, Ocon won the clownish Hungarian gp, same for gasley in 2020 but this year it would be almost impossible for them to have a chance to win a race this season due to the huge performance gap.
      Maybe the radical rule change was a bad idea after all..

      1. The radical rule change was necessary. We now have cars that, even in the infancy of these rules, can now follow each other in corners. We have two teams with cars near identical on pace and possibly a third getting close.
        Before last year we had a team that could cruise to titles with their engines turned down. Now that was the biggest farce of all.

  6. Mercedes managed to turn around their issues within the first half of the season (which must mean they will have less come the second half) and Ferrari has been improving massively as well. So far, Red Bull has brought the occasional bits and bobs, but nothing jaw-dropping (and time-improving) as the teams around them have.

    Does make one wonder on what Red Bull spend their budget and what’s to come in the second half. I recall Verstappen telling the official F1 platform that there was ‘plenty to come’, so I hope (for Red Bull’s sake) that this is true. Red Bull has always been about improving the car during the year, but they got overtaken by Mercedes last year as well. So far, Ferrari seem to be doing the same…

    1. So far, Red Bull has brought the occasional bits and bobs, but nothing jaw-dropping (and time-improving) as the teams around them have.

      RBR have already brought a B car in the last days of testing and brought upgrades in all the races even in Sprint weekends where the timeline is too short to evaluate new parts. Ferrari raced with almost the same spec car in the first 5 races. They also raced with an unchanged car in Austria and Imola and brought two major upgrade package in Spain and Silverstone and a new rear wing in Baku with some minor changes here and there.

    2. Doesn’t matter if ferrari end up with the fastest car (also unrealistic), they will not capitalise on it.

  7. The reason the gap is so big this year is that Ferrari drives have not taken him out of the race or damaged his car either by malice or pure incompetence (Silverstone, Hungary).

    They also have about the same bad luck with Leclerc so far (2 retirements and 1 compromised race each, with 1 certain win lost(Leclerc Barcelona and Verstappen Silverstone)). Unlike 2021 (Baku).

    The only extra that is left that can explain the gap is driver/team errors which Hamilton also made a lot more last season (Monaco, Baku, Turkey). Not including severe ones that were helped by his huge luck (Imola, Sochi).

    By the way, why has the world not broken apart, when Russell was “gifted” Perez’s podium due to the FIA system malfunction with everyone accepting “mistakes happen”?

    Oh yeah because it’s not the last race of the season and we don’t hate George. Oh right, excuse me!

    1. It’s because Perez was not supposed to be fighting for that position. But hearing on the FIA VSC glitch is ridiculous. Anyone in the future can benefit from that glitch and unnecessarily. Not the first time they have had a fault in their system (Abu Dhabi 2019 DRS). It looks like the FIA has reliability problems too.

    2. @Cobray
      Good point. If a RedBull needed a 3rd place for a title and they got it the way George got it today, there would be all out war on here.
      But if it’s in the middle of the season, who cares?

    3. And todays winner of turning a subject into a anti Ham/Merc rant goes to……

      1. By a huge margin too!

  8. Leclerc’s was pushing the limit, he was bound to crash. Mistrust in his team leads to more pressure. Ferrari needs more common sense.

  9. This is pretty much the story of 2017 and 2018

    1. Perhaps they can at least make a win record in recent times, they’re already close to 2018.

  10. True, but while the gap would be smaller without all lost points for Leclerc, it’d be even bigger without the Bahrain & Australian GP DNFs that cost 36 points overall or Silverstone struggle.
    A third option is neither losing any points for anything, things out of their control or within their control like Leclerc’s Imola & Paul Ricard points losses, so the what-if game applies to both equally in more than one way.

    1. The worst thing for Charles is that his problems are coming while ahead of Max. Not only is he losing out on a high amount of points for himself, he is not forcing Max into scoring less points which has caused the biggest swing.

  11. In Spain and France alone, assuming Charles would have taken a likely win, he would have scored 50pts and Max would now be on 14pts less than he is now.
    Ferrari could easily be ahead in this title fight if they weren’t self destructing.

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