Can Max Verstappen win Back-to-Back Championships?

Christian Horner, Red Bull, F1

Grace Crispin

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Can Max Verstappen win Back-to-Back Championships?

Max Verstappen’s 2021 World Driver’s Championship was nothing less than controversial, with his last-lap overtake on title rival Lewis Hamilton coming in odd circumstances that cost the Brit the championship and race director Michael Masi his job.

However, the tumultuous end to the 2021 season meant that Verstappen’s brilliant display all season long has been somewhat underrated and underplayed. If the Dutchman carries his 2021 performances over to the 2022 season, the chances of Verstappen clinching back-to-back World Driver’s Championships could be very high.

Despite the Ferraris being fast out of the blocks in the 2022 Formula One season, following the impressive 1-2 and Verstappen’s sprint race win for Red Bull in Imola, all is to play for.

2022 F1 RABs/Specials

skybet betting tip

VERSTAPPEN TO WIN THE BRITISH GP, DUTCH GP, BELGIUM GP & AUSTRIAN GP @ 20/1

The 2022 Season So Far

Pre-season testing in Bahrain looked hopeful for Verstappen and Red Bull, with the Dutchman setting the fastest time in the three day test period. However, when the Grand Prix rolled around in Bahrain, Red Bull were less than satisfied with their race weekend. Reliability caused not only Verstappen to retire from second place but also his teammate Sergio Perez, who was running in third.

Round two of the 2022 season was in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a track where Verstappen finished second to Hamilton in 2021. The Dutchman only qualified fourth in Jeddah, with teammate Perez winning his first career pole and the two Ferraris occupying second and third.

However, an ill-timed safety car ruined Perez’s race but greatly benefitted Verstappen. After some close wheel-to-wheel racing with Charles Leclerc, Verstappen overtook and went on to claim his first win of the 2022 season.

Australia saw the return of the reliability issues that ended Verstappen’s race prematurely in Bahrain. Once again the Dutchman, in P2, had an issue with the car and had to retire, though the other Red Bull did manage to complete the race, inheriting and defending second place.

Verstappen’s performance throughout the entire race weekend at Imola saw him cut Leclerc’s Championship lead from 46 points to 27. The Dutchman won pole position in Friday’s qualifying session, won the sprint race even after falling behind Leclerc following a poor start, and finished first in the Grand Prix.

Verstappen also completed a grand slam in Imola, with the race win, pole position and having led every single lap.

Leclerc’s poor performance in Imola allowed Verstappen to start closing in on the Monagasque’s lead and to build momentum for his charge for a back-to-back World Driver’s Championship.

Driver-Constructor Championship Double Odds

skybet betting tip

VERSTAPPEN & RED BULL @ 2/1

Verstappen's Impressive 2021 Campaign

Max Verstappen’s 2021 Formula One season was nothing less than impressive. The Dutchman only had three retirements in the whole season, in Azerbaijan after a tyre failure and in Monza and Silverstone due to racing incidents with title rival Lewis Hamilton.

In the 19 races Verstappen did finish, he only finished outside the top two once. This came in Hungary where the Dutchman was involved in a first-lap incident in which Valtteri Bottas locked up and hit Lando Norris and Perez, with Verstappen being a part of the collateral damage. Despite the damage to his car, Verstappen managed to salvage a ninth-place finish after the early red flag.

Overall, Verstappen ended his championship with 395.5 points and 10 wins, including a grand slam in Austria, a strong season against arguably one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport.

The New Rival

As the new season has unfolded, it seems that Ferrari have replaced Mercedes in the title scrap with Red Bull and with this new rivalry brings a spark of an older one. Max Verstappen is only 16 days older than his 2022 title-rival Charles Leclerc, and the pair regularly raced each other in their youth.

The most infamous example of their rivalry in their early years was the crash in 2012. This was where Leclerc crashed into Verstappen after the chequered flag, an event still referenced by the drivers and fans to this day. However, one of the most important races between the two in their youth was Verstappen’s win in the CIK-FIA World KZ Championship in 2013.

The pair have also gotten their elbows out when racing each other in Formula One, most notably in Austria in 2019. Verstappen denied Leclerc his maiden F1 win with a late overtake, just two laps from the end. The two did make contact when the Dutchman passed, causing Leclerc to run off of the road, but later investigation by stewards concluded that no further action was to be taken.

This season, Leclerc has shown the potential that had been rumoured for his entire motorsport career. The Monegasque won in Bahrain and completed his first-ever career grand slam in Australia.

Now in somewhat equal machinery, the pair’s rivalry has been allowed to manifest in some tense and exciting wheel-to-wheel racing. However, the respect the two have for each other is clear with the fair racing and Leclerc’s declaration of wanting to win via racing Verstappen rather than him retiring.

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