Robert Doornbos prefers Verstappen/Hamilton fights to Leclerc battles

Thomas Maher
Max Verstappen follows Lewis Hamilton. Singapore October 2022.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen trails Lewis Hamilton through Turn 3. Singapore October 2022.

Former racer Robert Doornbos says he gets more enjoyment from watching Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton battle, rather than Charles Leclerc.

Robert Doornbos believes the battles between his compatriot Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton take on a different edge to the battles Verstappen has with Charles Leclerc.

Despite being title rivals in 2022, Leclerc and Verstappen’s racing didn’t result in any car contact – this was despite a particularly spirited battle in Saudi Arabia when the pair traded places on several occasions.

In contrast, following on from their high-profile incidents in 2021, Verstappen and Hamilton did collide in 2022 as Mercedes showed up with a more competitive car in the final races of the year – the pair crunched together at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

Doornbos, who raced in Formula 1 with Minardi and, briefly, with Red Bull in the mid-2000s, believes the fights between Hamilton and Verstappen are more intense.

“Perhaps I liked the battles with Hamilton even better,” he said, in conversation with the Dutch subsidiary of GPFans.

“Look, because you just see that it really is the king of the sport (Hamilton), who may be dethroning himself, against the new king (Verstappen) who is coming. Max showed really clearly: ‘I’m here and wheel-to-wheel battles, I’m not impressed by that, whoever you are’. And that must also be the mindset.”

Doornbos also believes that Max’s father Jos has played an integral role in influencing his son’s mindset toward wheel-to-wheel battle.

“I think that is also Jos’s education,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter who you’re fighting with, it’s fighting for position and there can only be one winner. And Max understands that game very well. That is not to the detriment of Leclerc, I think he is a very talented driver, but he may leave a little more margin.

“He is a bit more concerned with ‘It’s Max Verstappen, I can’t make a mistake, because I drive for Ferrari ‘. You also saw when he looked in his mirrors to see where Max was, he immediately made a braking error afterward. So, performing under pressure, that can be done a little better with the Monegasque.”

Read More: Max Verstappen scores another 2022 P1 as team bosses have their say