Max Verstappen is far less experienced in championship scraps than rival Lewis Hamilton, but he does not believe that matters at all.
Hamilton is gunning for a record eighth World Championship this season, an achievement that would put him alone at the pinnacle as the most successful driver Formula 1 has ever seen.
But on his road to that goal, he has met very stern opposition.
With only two races to go it is Verstappen who leads the Drivers’ Championship, eight points clear of Hamilton, in what is the first season of Verstappen’s career when he has had the machinery to sustain a title fight.
For much of the campaign though, Verstappen has not looked like a driver in uncharted territory, instead he has brushed off the talk of pressure and backed it up on track, leaving him with the advantage at this crucial stage.
So on the theory that Hamilton has the edge due to his experience of being in this scenario, Verstappen does not give any value to that.
“No, I don’t think it makes a big difference because otherwise it would have shown already throughout the season,” Verstappen told reporters at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix race weekend.
“Of course, as a driver you always keep learning, even when you are 30, 35, 40.
“You learn through experience and naturally you become quicker, but maybe you know or understand how to deal with certain situations or prepare yourself better.
“But these things are pretty normal.”
Despite still being only 24, Verstappen is now a highly experienced Formula 1 driver, currently contesting his seventh full season in the sport.
And so he definitely now feels at a stage where he is “much better prepared” for this challenge, using Hamilton’s rookie campaign in 2007 as an example when errors cost him the World Championship.
“I think it is natural, of course, that when you are at this stage of your career you are better prepared than when you were in your first or second [fight],” Verstappen explained.
“[Like] when Lewis was fighting for his first title, I think it’s just a natural progression and it’s very normal.
“I also feel much better prepared and more experienced than when I just came into Formula 1.”
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