Motorsport journalist Richard Aucock believes that Max Verstappen was “gifted” his maiden championship last season, and that the same is happening again this year.
Verstappen won the title in 2021 after a controversial Safety Car restart by now former race director Michael Masi, and the Dutchman passed Sir Lewis Hamilton on the final lap as a result, winning the title in dramatic fashion.
This year, the 24-year-old has taken advantage of a number of failures on the part of the Scuderia.
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have suffered four reliability failures between them in 2022 as Verstappen won in Spain and Baku when the Monegasque retired, while Sainz’s engine blowout in Austria a fortnight ago left the 24-year-old to take second behind winner Leclerc.
Poor strategic decisions have played a part too; Leclerc lost crucial ground in both Monaco and Silverstone due to errors on the pit wall, giving vital points to Verstappen.
In France last weekend, Leclerc made his second major error of the season as he lost the back end at Turn 11 while leading the race, slamming into the wall and suffering his third non-finish of the year.
Aucock suggested that life is all too easy for the Red Bull driver right now.
“I bet Max can’t believe his luck. Last year, the FIA gifted him the title. This year, it’s Ferrari,” he tweeted.
Verstappen sympathised with Leclerc after his mistake, but is not sure if his title rival’s inexperience in a title battle was the main reason behind it.
“It’s difficult to tell,” he said in an interview with Sky Sports.
“I mean these mistakes are easily made so I don’t know… I mean I feel sorry for him of course, it’s not nice and he knows that!
“But there are still a lot of races to go and there will be a few tough weekends for us as well.”
Verstappen’s championship led was extended to 63 points after his victory in France.