Max Verstappen addresses whether he’s racing differently in 2022 to 2021: PlanetF1

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has explained how he thinks wheel-to-wheel racing has changed under the 2022 regulations.

The Dutch driver is noticeably calmer when in direct combat with another driver this season, after the dramatic and controversial incidents that marred the 2021 championship.

While Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton collided or nearly collided on regular occasions during their titanic 2021 title fight, Verstappen has had no such drama this year when he took on Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

It has led pundits and commentators to speculate as to whether Verstappen is taking a different approach to his racing this year, or whether the Dutchman is simply in the luxurious position of enjoying a trouble-free championship as Ferrari has collapsed in the strategic and reliability fronts.

Is Max Verstappen racing any differently in 2022?

Asked directly if he has adopted a different mindset for racing in 2022, Verstappen said the regulation change has played a part in any different approach, due to more overtaking opportunities than with the previous generation of cars.

“I think in the last few years, the focus was a lot on qualifying because on some tracks it was very difficult to follow,” Verstappen told the media at Zandvoort on Thursday.

“Cars would get a bit uncontrollable when you got too close, unless you had a big lead on pace or on tyres.

“Now at least you know that even if your qualifying wasn’t great, there’s a chance you’ll pass them anyway in the race if you have good race pace. How nice.”

Max Verstappen got in behind Lewis Hamilton.  Brazil, November 2021.

But Verstappen also hinted that a different approach has been taken depending on the car he’s racing in, suggesting that the way he fights his childhood rival Leclerc isn’t exactly how he fought the seven-time former world champion. Lewis Hamilton.

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“Of course, every year is different anyway, in terms of who you’re fighting or the team you’re fighting,” he said.

“But these cars are… yeah, a lot more fun to fight. And I hope that now, in the next couple of years, with the regulations stabilizing a little bit, it will only get better and generally everyone will have a better understanding.

“So all the teams can get a little closer, so there are more cars fighting up front. Basically, a bit of what we saw in Hungary. Of course, we were a bit out of position so we had to move on, but there were at least three teams effectively fighting for the win.”

Did Max Verstappen prefer to race the 2021 machinery instead of the 22?

With the Dutch driver at the helm of F1 for the last year of the old regulations, as well as the first year of the new regulations, Verstappen was asked whether he preferred to race the RB16B or the RB18.

“I think just for the feel and feel of it, I prefer last year’s car, like a lap,” he offered.

“But I have to say that I think it also has to do mainly with the increased weight of the car. At low speed, it’s a bit more difficult.

“So because you have to drive the car very stiff, compared to last year, but the high speed is nice with the new cars. I think they are pretty stable there.

“So it has some positive aspects. But I think at the end of the day, they are designed to make racing better. And that definitely got a little bit better, so we should be happy with that. But in just one lap, I think last year’s car was really good.

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