Verstappen found F1 points gap in 2022 "a bit surprising"

Max Verstappen found his margin of victory over Charles Leclerc and Ferrari in 2022 "a bit surprising" after comfortably wrapping up the world championship.

Verstappen found F1 points gap in 2022 "a bit surprising"

Verstappen clinched his second F1 title with four races to spare, and went on to score a record 454 points in single season with 15 victories to his name.

It meant Verstappen ended the year 146 points clear of Leclerc in the final standings despite the Ferrari driver initially looking like his most likely rival for the championship.

Leclerc won two of the first three races to pull a 46-point advantage over Verstappen, only for his season to stutter in the second half as Ferrari paid the price for poor reliability and some strategic errors.

Asked if he would have liked Ferrari and Leclerc to have stayed in the title fight longer, particularly given the respect in their early-season fights, Verstappen replied: “On the one hand, yes.

“But if you look at how close the cars were, it's a bit surprising to have such a big gap anyway. There weren't many weekends in which we were really dominant.

“But I mean, at the end, I'm pretty happy with how everything turned out, especially after the season I had last year [2021]. It's not always good to have that kind of fight every single year.

“And I do think next year, everything will be closer anyway.”

 

Photo by: Erik Junius

Verstappen won his first title in 2021 after a tense, season-long fight against Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes that ended in controversy over the final-lap restart in Abu Dhabi.

2022 offered a very different state of affairs as Mercedes struggled to get to grips with the new technical regulations, causing it to fall well behind Red Bull and Ferrari in the early part of the season.

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Although Mercedes was able to remedy its issues in time to win the penultimate race of the year in Brazil, Hamilton endured his first season without a victory in F1.

The trajectory shown by Mercedes has fuelled belief it will be back in contention from the outset in 2023, with Helmut Marko predicting the team will pose the biggest threat to Red Bull’s title defence.

Verstappen shared Marko’s confidence that Mercedes would be in the fight at the front from the start of this season, saying: “Yes, for sure. They will be in it.”

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