‘Max won’t let those peanut eight points affect him’

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen laughs Lewis Hamilton. Britain July 2021

Max Verstappen laughs with Lewis Hamilton as the two title protagonists attend the unveiling of a model of F1's 2022 car. Britain July 2021

Falling from a 32-point lead to an eight-point deficit “won’t affect” Max Verstappen as eight points are “peanuts” says Giedo van der Garde.

Everything was going right for Verstappen and Red Bull as they left the Red Bull Ring after round nine of the F1 championship.

Verstappen had just won three grands prix on the trot, the first time he’d ever managed that, and was up by 32 points in the Drivers’ standings.

And then Silverstone happened.

That crash was followed by another in Hungary, Verstappen’s lead in the championship becoming a deficit.

“That won’t affect him,” former F1 driver turned pundit Van der Garde told Motorsport.com. “It’s only eight points. Those eight points really don’t matter.

“Of course it’s nice if you can be the first in the championship as you enter the summer break, but those eight points are peanuts.

“As it stands, there are still 12 races to go. There are still so many points to be won.”

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It is not form that has cost Verstappen in the standings, rather it is bad luck.

He suffered a tyre failure while leading in Azerbaijan, that crash costing him at least 25 points, while at Silverstone and Hungary he was hit by one Mercedes driver or the other.

“He was not very lucky,” van der Garde said of the Dutchman’s first half of the campaign. “But I think Max is just super strong in everything he does this season.

“He performs insanely well on the track. Even after such a bad crash at Silverstone he arrived in Budapest and went straight to setting the fastest time during the first practice. That says something about his mental strength.

“I think Max has the same fighting spirit as Lewis.”

As for Hamilton, the Mercedes driver is facing his stiffest competition since Nico Rosberg in the battle for the World title.

Van der Garde said: “He really has to fight for what he’s worth. I don’t think he has it easy. You saw that on the podium and in the press conference after the race in Hungary.

“It’s a real battle. Lewis shouts all year that he enjoys the fight, but at the same time it costs him a lot of energy. He really has to give everything.

“And meanwhile, he is not making it easy for himself and the team is not making it easy for him either.

“But he gives everything. You can see that he is going for it and fighting for it.”