The beginning of the 2022 season has enthused former Renault team principal Flavio Briatore, who sees Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc as the best in the business at present.
The pair engaged in two thrilling battles in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia as they tactically tried to outsmart each other in their bid to gain DRS and finalise their overtakes.
This new, more strategic approach has surfaced by virtue of the new technical regulations which have made overtaking easier, and the new ground effect aerodynamics on the cars mean that drivers can stay in the battle for longer.
Briatore has been fascinated by the beginning of the 2022 season following on from the unadulterated drama of last year during Verstappen’s title fight with Sir Lewis Hamilton.
“Last year we closed the world championship with an incredible Grand Prix and this year we started first with a Ferrari one-two and then with the race in Saudi Arabia, one of the most beautiful races in recent times,” said Briatore .
Asked which driver he would sign to his dream team, he said he would – in an ideal world – sign both the Dutchman and the Ferrari driver.
“I would take Verstappen. But if I had the money, I would take them [Verstappen and Leclerc] both,” he added.
After the enthralling battle in Jeddah, Verstappen highlighted the importance of using his intelligence in what became an intense tactical battle with Leclerc.
“It was a really tough but good race. We were battling hard at the front and we just tried to play the long game,” the Dutchman said.
“They [Ferrari] were really quick through corners, we were quick on the straight, but the tyres were wearing out quite quick around here.
“You could see at the end we had a bit more pace, so I just tried to get by. It wasn’t easy, playing smart tricks in the last corner, but eventually I managed to get ahead.”
Leclerc leads the world championship at present, but his 20-point gap back to Verstappen is partly owed to the reliability issues that both Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez suffered in Bahrain.