JV: Max must prove he can be a champion

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen Red Bull

Max Verstappen Red Bull

Ex-F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve has said the pressure is now on Max Verstappen as the Dutchman chases a first title.

Verstappen is no stranger to pressure in Formula 1 – after all, he had to face the daunting task of joining the grid at only 17 years of age.

And practically ever since, Verstappen has been talked about as a future World Champion, but finally this season it seems he has the machinery at Red Bull to challenge for that honour.

Sir Lewis Hamilton emerged victorious from his duel with Verstappen in Bahrain, but for outright pace the advantage was with the Dutchman who topped every practice session and claimed pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

But now that Verstappen has the tools, Villeneuve says the pressure and expectation is on.

“The pressure is on Verstappen,” he said in an interview with the Journal de Montreal.

“Everyone sees him as a future World Champion, it’s up to him to prove it.”

Max Verstappen Bahrain PA

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Hopes are high that finally in 2021 we will see that title battle between Hamilton and Verstappen, as the dominant force of this era in Formula 1 defends his crown against the driver expected to replace him at the top of the mountain.

And while we could perhaps see a changing of the guard, it seems very likely something we will see in 2021 is the debut of sprint races in Formula 1.

Teams have now reportedly agreed on the financial side of the proposal which would see qualifying on Saturday replaced by a 100km sprint race at selected events, and Villeneuve believes it is a good idea to at least try the concept.

“My first reaction would have been to criticise this approach, but when you think about it F1 has to innovate,” he said.

“Friday [when qualifying is usually held on Saturday] is so flat for the fans. I think it’s a formula worth exploring.”

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