‘Charles made him look really silly’: Verstappen criticised for getting outsmarted by Leclerc in Bahrain

Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc engaged in an enthralling fight for the lead of the season-opening 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix.

F1 fans have been having their say regarding which driver might have the advantage in a battle between Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen following their entertaining scrap at the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Verstappen twice passed the Monegasque heading into Turn One at the Bahrain Grand Prix after Leclerc had started on pole.

But, the Ferrari driver was able to get the cutback going into Turns Two and Three, giving him a slingshot exit and subsequent DRS run heading up towards Turn Four.

As a result, he was able to get back past Verstappen and reclaim the lead, before the Dutchman went for the jugular only to lock up and allow the now three-time race winner back through.

READ: Norris claims Verstappen has a ‘mentality of risking everything’ when battling Hamilton

After the race, Leclerc revealed that he had been braking early when under attack from Verstappen so that he could execute a DRS pass into the next braking zone.

“I was trying to be as clever as possible, using the DRS as much as possible so I was trying to brake early in Turn One just to be behind him at the DRS detection and twice it worked out so I took back my first position and [I’m] incredibly happy that we made it work,” he said.

This smart tactic was exemplary of the new, refined thinking from the drivers as to how they go about wheel-to-wheel racing, as the new technical regulations facilitate much less straightforward passes.

Matt Gallagher, YouTuber and journalist, revelled in the intelligence of the Monegasque.

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“Charles Leclerc admitting after the race that he was braking a bit early into T1 to ensure he had DRS for the run down to T4 to repass Max. 110% IQ,” he tweeted.

It inaugurated a discussion as to whether the Scuderia driver is more proficient in wheel-to-wheel racing than the reigning world champion, with one user claiming that Leclerc made Verstappen look “silly.”

“That man’s race craft is miles ahead of Max,” they replied.

“The crazy thing is max never thought to just wait to overtake him on the second DRS zone. But I guess he’s just used to dive bombing and people moving. Charles made him look really silly.”

This itself got a reply from another fan suggesting that these are the remarks of a Sir Lewis Hamilton fan who does not pay attention to the rest of the sport.

“Say you are a Lewis fan & not a F1 fan without saying you are!” they said.

“Suddenly all Ham fans have got into the Charles bandwagon & discovering that he is a great driver 🙂 Max & Charles are matched well & would be a great contest honestly with their IQ and skill. If only RB can keep up.”

Another noted that Leclerc was able to find better rear grip out of Turn One, and therefore Verstappen could not simply wait for his opportunity.

“He didn’t have a chance to overtake Leclerc in T4 because Ferrari’s traction out of T2-T3 was really strong,” they reasoned.

Leclerc went on to win the race, while a cruel late reliability issue put Verstappen out of the grand prix.