Ex-F1 driver Karun Chandhok believes there is a “clear difference” in how Max Verstappen races against Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc, with the Dutchman being tougher on the British driver.
2022 saw an interesting title fight for some of the season between Verstappen and Leclerc, with the duo having also fought cleanly and most importantly, fairly.
The pair never made contact with one another, with many having praised their ability to race against each incredibly cleanly.
Interestingly, the same can’t be said for when Verstappen duels with Hamilton, with neither having been prepared to give one another an extra inch over the years.
They famously collided several times in 2021, during the pair’s mammoth title fight, with the duo having crashed together at the Italian Grand Prix that year.
Even in 2022, the duo still collided on the one occasion when they actually battled each other, as they made contact at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Reflecting on that, Chandhok is certain that Verstappen feels different when fighting with Hamilton rather than Leclerc, with the Indian driver suggesting that the double World Champion feels like he needs to “knock” Hamilton “off his throne”.
“I think there’s a clear difference there. Lewis is the king of the castle and has been for this generation,” Chandhok said on Sky Sports F1’s end of season review show.
“Max felt that he had to assert himself again to Lewis and knock him off the throne.
“Whereas he sees George, Charles and Carlos as his peers and he’s not trying to knock them off the throne, which is why I think he races them differently.”
Chandhok used this year’s and last year’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix to prove his point, with Verstappen having fought Hamilton at the 2021 edition of the race and Leclerc this season.
In 2021, Verstappen and Hamilton made contact once again, with the Dutchman having gone off the circuit multiple times, in order to remain ahead of the 103-time GP winner.
In contrast, Verstappen and Leclerc raced hard but impeccably at the Saudi Arabian GP earlier this year, proving that the Red Bull driver does perhaps approach his battles with Hamilton differently.
“Saudi Arabia this year was a fantastic example of that, compare it to last year, which was frankly only a few months before,” he added.
“The difference between Lewis and Max there, which was hugely controversial, and Charles and Max this year, it was a superb race – they finished half a second apart, great racing.”