MAX VERSTAPPEN was less aggressive towards Charles Leclerc in Bahrain than he was in his track war with Lewis Hamilton last season, claims F1 pundit Martin Brundle.
The reigning champion and the Frenchman produced a thrilling tussle in the opening race of the campaign after their first stops.
Max Verstappen appeared to be less aggressive in his Bahrain duel with Charles Leclerc
His battles on the track with Lewis Hamilton were much more aggressive
The pair traded the lead in the Middle East for several laps but it was Leclerc who eventually claimed the win.
However, as Brundle highlighted, the battle was in a much fairer manner compared to Verstappen and Hamilton’s over the 2021 Drivers’ Championship.
Writing In his Sky F1 column, Brundle said: “It was very interesting to observe those two slugging it out.
“Max would slice up the inside into turn one having used the slipstream, DRS rear wing open, and superior straight-line speed to remarkable effect down the pit straight, along with late braking.
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“Charles was measuring this constantly in his mirrors, accepting the inevitable, and then intelligently ensuring he was second car past the DRS detection point, meaning he could get the rear wing open on the way up to turn four and regain the lead.
“Verstappen’s defence was firm but very fair, and with significantly less aggression than he dished out to Hamilton last season.
“Indeed, it was Leclerc who sliced across his nose into turn four on one occasion. It will be fascinating to see how this plays out as the championship unfolds.”
Verstappen was eventually forced to drop back in order to cool his brakes.
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The world champion then ultimately retired from the race with a few laps remaining due to an issue with his Red Bull car.
With his team-mate Sergio Perez suffering the same fate it saw Ferrari claim a 1-2 and Lewis Hamilton and George Russell bring home their Mercedes’ in third and fourth respectively.
New regulations have been put in place that allow competitors to follow more closely and to overtake without ruining tyres and losing downforce.
And the sequences involving Verstappen and Leclerc suggest F1 has succeeded in that.
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Brundle added: “As Ross Brawn’s engineering mind puts it ‘we only have a sample of one so far’, but it was clear from the testing and particularly racing in Bahrain that the drivers can follow each other more closely and without experiencing anywhere near as much unpredictable sliding followed by overheating of their tyres.
“The cars remain very heavily aero loaded, of considerable girth, and extremely fast, and so they’ll never trade paint and places with each other like a hoard of Minis or Formula Fords, but that’s fine so long as we can experience the attack and counter-attack we witnessed between Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen over three laps on Sunday night.”