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Max Verstappen Asked Whether He’d Rather Beat Hamilton Or Charles Leclerc… “Hamilton Will Not Make It To The Podium”

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Max Verstappen has claimed he doesn’t care which F1 rival he battles for the title as long as he comes out on top. The Red Bull driver is currently well placed to retain his championship, sitting top of the standings on 181 points – 34 clear of teammate Sergio Perez. Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, who made the early running and was tipped to be Verstappen’s main challenger, is 41 points behind after an error-strewn period. It’s all a far cry from the 2021 campaign, when it was seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton who was embroiled in an intense battle with the Dutchman.

 

 

Following on-track collisions between the pair at both Silverstone and Monza, it all came down to the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi. Ultimately, it was Verstappen who prevailed after the controversial late safety car procedure which scuppered the British driver when he was leading comfortably. The Mercedes man is currently struggling to compete though, having failed to get to grips with his new W13 vehicle in this new era of F1 regulations. But when asked whether he took more satisfaction from toppling the F1 icon than he did Leclerc, Verstappen dismissed any notion of preference.

 

 

“I don’t mind as long as I come out on top,” he told the Guardian. “That’s the most important feeling. There are a lot of good drivers in F1 and when you are battling them it’s a lot of fun.” Verstappen is currently in pole position, literally, to extend his lead this weekend having been quickest in Friday’s qualifying session. Joining him on the front of the grid for the Saturday Sprint Race will be Leclerc, with his Scuderia teammate Carlos Sainz third.

 

 

Hamilton meanwhile, will start 9th after a disastrous start to Q3, crashing out on his first lap having been running third at the time. Perhaps a reminder of previous hostilities between him and Verstappen came when the majority of the crowd, largely backing the world champion, cheered the incident.

 

 

Moments later his Mercedes partner George Russell also spun off the track, but he will still start fourth following the demotion of Sergio Perez. The Mexican had finished up fourth, but later had his final Q2 lap, and all Q3 laps, deleted for breaching track regulations and was dropped back to 13th.

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