‘Max Verstappen will have to start from behind’: Charles Leclerc to be handed championship boost as Ferrari fired warning

Max Verstappen leads the Drivers' Championship by 80 points.

Max Verstappen looks all but certain to claim back-to-back World Drivers’ Championships, after an emphatic victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Dutchman has an 80 point lead in the standings, meaning he can miss the entire triple-header after the summer break and still be leading the championship by at least two points.

Verstappen claimed victory at the Hungaroring despite having started P10; however, it was largely down to Ferrari’s incompetence that the Red Bull Racing driver managed to win the race.

Ferrari pitted Charles Leclerc much earlier than planned and decided to put him on tyres that Pirelli advised against using.

As a result, Leclerc lost the race lead and ended up finishing in sixth.

Former driver Ralf Schumacher thinks Ferrari’s strategic blunder surprised Red Bull, as did the RB18’s incredible pace following a poor qualifying.

“I don’t think they expected the help, but I also don’t think they expected their Red Bull to fly like that,” the former F1 driver told Sky Germany.

“The Red Bulls were both very fast, but Max was clearly better again.”

Schumacher doesn’t see any possible outcome that sees Verstappen not winning the World Championship for the second time, especially as Ferrari are on the verge of being overtaken by the Mercedes F1 Team.

Article continues below

Mercedes are now only 30 points behind Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship; as well as this, the German team have had back-to-back double podium finishes.

The brother of Michael Schumacher believes that ultimately, Ferrari have “ruined it for themselves”.

“Even if Mercedes starts to take Verstappen’s points at the front, nothing can happen to him as long as he is in front of Ferrari,” he added.

“That is why it is very unlikely, especially if Ferrari is ruining it for themselves with the pit stops and the tyres.”

Verstappen was forced to start from P10 in Hungary following a power unit issue in qualifying.

The issue occured in Q3 and resulted in the Dutchman being unable to set a laptime.

As a result, Red Bull fitted Verstappen and Sergio Pérez with new power units, as a precaution.

Both Red Bull drivers are now on their final engine from their allowed pool, meaning that should another new engine be needed it will result in a grid penalty.

With this in mind, Schumacher thinks that the second half of the season is going to be unpredictable, with a lot “still going to happen”.

READ: George Russell warns Mercedes against ‘changing car concept’

“A lot is still going to happen,” Schumacher said.

“Engines still have to be replaced, so Max will have to start again from behind.

“On the other hand, that’s no problem if it happens on a track that suits him.”