Verstappen: 63-point lead ‘bigger than it should have been’

Henry Valantine
Max Verstappen with the P1 trophy aloft. Paul Ricard July 2022.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen lifts the winner's trophy above his head. France July 2022.

Max Verstappen is understandably pleased to have opened up a significant World Championship lead, but acknowledges the 63-point gap should not be as large as it is.

Title rival Charles Leclerc had taken pole for the French Grand Prix, and was leading ahead of the Red Bull driver until he spun out at Le Beausset on lap 18, sending his Ferrari into the tyre barrier – much to the understandable frustration of the Monégasque driver.

Verstappen took full advantage of his opponent’s toil and went on to take a comfortable victory ahead of Lewis Hamilton at Paul Ricard, which then gave him an advantage two-and-a-half race victories worth of points from his nearest rival.

But despite that widening gap to the rest, the reigning champion is keeping his feet on the ground for now, believing that the final round before the summer break could pose a big challenge for Red Bull.

“Of course, it’s a great lead but a lot of things can happen and I just want to stay focused; we need a lot more good results, a lot more one-lap pace,” Verstappen said at the post-race press conference in France.

“The next race is Budapest, and I think that will be a bit more of a struggle for us, where I think Ferrari is going to be really, really quick. It’s all about scoring points every single race, even when it’s not your race.”

The World Championship leader also acknowledged that Ferrari probably have the superior package overall in qualifying trim, and Red Bull will be working hard to iron out the gap.

With that, he said that even when the team cannot match the Scuderia, keeping their points tally ticking over remains a key target for them.

“From our side, we know that we have to find, especially over one lap, quite a bit of performance. We’ll be working on it. It’s still important to always score points, even on a bad day, which we had in Austria.

“Of course, the lead we have is great, but it’s probably a bit bigger than what it should have been when you look at the car performances between the two cars.”

As well as Verstappen extending his advantage in the Drivers’ Championship, Red Bull’s lead in the Constructors’ standings now sits at 82 points over Ferrari.


Highlights from the French Grand Prix

Did Max Verstappen win the French Grand Prix, or did Ferrari and Charles Leclerc throw it away? Probably a bit of both.