Charles Leclerc warned Max Verstappen’s aggression could return if ‘push comes to shove’

Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc have entertained with some fantastic battles this season.

Former Formula 1 driver Martin Brundle has praised Max Verstappen’s racing adeptness this season after criticising the Dutchman at the end of last year.

Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton were involved in a number of collisions in 2021, most notably in Silverstone, Monza and Saudi Arabia, and the Brazilian Grand Prix was full of controversy between the pair too.

Jeddah was the scene of the 24-year-old first leaving the racetrack to pass Hamilton, before later pushing him off the circuit at Turn One.

Verstappen was told to allow Hamilton by after he himself had even gone off while running the 37-year-old out of room but, as he did so, the pair misunderstood what each other’s intentions were, and they collided.

READ: Michael Masi turns his back on the FIA, but could he still return as race director?

After the race, Brundle was ‘saddened’ by the “tactics” deployed by the Red Bull driver as he pushed for his first crown.

“It saddens me that he’s resorting to such tactics, he’s better than that,” he wrote in his Sky column.

However, the now reigning champion has been involved in some tremendous on-track battles with Charles Leclerc in 2022, and got his elbows out in Silverstone to defend from Haas’ Mick Schumacher.

He has kept it all clean and avoided being involved in any notable incidents this season, so Brundle indicates that there has been a maturing process since the end of last season.

Article continues below

“Max once again was very fair and professional in his driving and defence,” he said of the Austrian Grand Prix, where Leclerc thrice passed Verstappen for the lead on his way to victory.

READ: Horner reveals if Red Bull will be affected by skid block rule change amid cheating allegations

“Generally he is this year, albeit very much pushing the limits in his defence against Mick Schumacher the week before at Silverstone. 

“I remember commenting in Jeddah last year Michael Schumacher’s, and to an extent Ayrton Senna’s amazing legacies are partly diminished by some dirty driving, and that Max would do well to avoid that career reputation.”

Leclerc’s win in Spielberg now lifts him back up to second in the Drivers’ Standings, so the 66-year-old is fascinated by the prospect of Verstappen ending up in a battle for the title as he was last season. 

“It will be interesting to see how that goes if push literally comes to shove in the championship,” added Brundle.

Verstappen managed his eighth podium of the season last weekend, and Sainz’s win in Silverstone, coupled with Leclerc’s success in Austria, means that the Dutchman has gone two consecutive races without a win for the first time this season.