Romain Grosjean: Brazil the only blemish on Max Verstappen’s near-perfect 2022

Oliver Harden
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen shakes hands with his team-mate Sergio Perez. Australia April 2022

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen shakes hands with his team-mate Sergio Perez, cameraman filming. Australia April 2022

 Ex-Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean believes Max Verstappen’s title-winning 2022 season was “99 per cent perfect” with the Red Bull team orders controversy in Brazil the only blemish on his campaign.

After winning his maiden crown in 2021, Verstappen won a record 15 races en route to his second Championship this year, sealing the title with four races to spare.

The Dutchman won nine of the last 11 races of the season, only finishing off the podium in Singapore and Brazil, where he refused to swap places with team-mate Sergio Perez to aid the Mexican’s charge for the runner-up spot in the Drivers’ standings.

Grosjean, who made 179 grand prix starts between 2009 and 2020, feels Verstappen was almost flawless this season – but disagreed with his handling of the situation at Interlagos.

Appearing on the Motor Sport Magazine podcast, he said: “I honestly think it’s one of the best that I’ve seen in Formula 1.

“It’s 99 per cent perfect, [the missing] one per cent being Brazil. That was the wrong call and the wrong message.

“Apart from that, there’s nothing you can say. He was there in qualifying, he was there in the race. Even when he spun in Hungary he still won the race.

“When you start doing that positive spiral you get everything right and nothing can stop you, so that was simply amazing.

“The only small touch I would say was the Brazil thing [when] he didn’t want to let Checo by. The rest, honestly I don’t think you can do much better.”

Verstappen’s victory from 10th on the grid in Hungary was followed by another win, from a starting position of P14, at the following round at Spa as he and Red Bull took full control of the 2022 title race.

Grosjean feels that Red Bull’s competitors could only stand and admire that level of performance but admitted days like that can be tough for a team-mate like Perez, who finished almost 18 seconds behind Verstappen at Spa despite starting from the front row.

“In those two races he was stronger than anyone else,” he added.

“In those races it’s not hard to be one of the competitors because you’re just like, ‘well, it is another level’.

“It’s hard to be a team-mate [in that scenario] because, when you see that happening and you don’t do it, it hurts a lot. But for the rest, they were in a different league.”

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