Charles Leclerc or Max Verstappen?

The first two races of the F1 championship brought the two talents of Ferrari and Red Bull to the fore, with Russell and Norris the best of their generation: the challenge for this 2022 title already seems to be theirs. It wasn’t the “if” that was in question, but the “when”, and that moment seems to have finally arrived. We are talking about the duel for the F1 title between Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen, the two brightest talents of a generation that undoubtedly also includes George Russell and Lando Norris. But the first two races of the championship have said that the “technical moment” is currently in the hands of Ferrari’s Monegasque and Red Bull’s Dutchman, who compared to Russell and Norris have in their hands the two fastest cars to compete for victories. A success each, two wonderful duels with overtaking, counter-overtaking and uncertainty until the last laps, the audience nailed to the screens to see who would win.

 Two extremely correct duels, with a thumbs up on the return lap from Charles to Max, who reciprocated on the track and then in the closed park, where the two congratulated each other for the good race and zero improprieties in the heated phases of the duel that was worth the victory in the Arabian GP. Let’s be clear, no one is so naive to believe that these tears will continue indefinitely, if the duel were to continue and enter the hot phase for the championship. Respect for the rival will always remain, Max and Charles have been engaged since childhood in the minor leagues and even as children they did not want to give up, as evidenced by the viral YouTube video of their very hot post-race karting, with a duel ended badly and an interview in which they were not spared mutual accusations. With the little voices of children they almost made tenderness; but those who know that fire inside, meant as a passion for racing and competition, are not at all surprised to see them now there, 24 years old, fighting for a GP victory.

It’s wonderful to imagine future duels between the two right now, perhaps starting with the next Australian GP. In Bahrain, Ferrari seemed to have that something extra. In Arabia, however, as Sergio Perez’s pole position shows, it was Red Bull that had the decisive edge in qualifying and in the final race. It is true that the double yellow flag prevented Leclerc from attempting the final assault on Verstappen with the advantage of the wide-open Drs, but Charles himself admitted that the Ferrari raced with a more loaded configuration that gave them an advantage in the mix and took away some speed on the straights. And so Verstappen’s win is more than deserved, net of that double yellow flag. A situation that highlights how the F1-75 and RB18 are two very different cars but incredibly fast in the same way. The teams will have to be good also in the development and refinements on the various circuits, according to the different characteristics.

Verstappen, the world champion is someone who always grinds his teammates down in qualifying, while he had to chew bitterly on Saturday with Perez’s pole position and two Ferraris ahead. Yet Max had all the monkeys on his shoulders, including the pressure of running with the unfortunate “zero” of Bahrain due to a technical problem. At the start he immediately threaded through Sainz and got into Leclerc’s mark. After the pit stop he built the final attack on a rival who made his life almost impossible 3 times. The first restart behind the Safety Car, when he took him out on the restart and prevented him from attacking on the straight. The second time when he made him pass in front at the braking of the last corner to have the Drs on the straight and overtake him again. And the third again at the penultimate corner, when he made him brake hard to slide away and not give him the advantage of the open moving wing again. Three super defenses by Leclerc, who however could do nothing on lap 47, when Max took advantage of the three situations and this time took the lead on the straight. Two races and two great duels. Gosh, how long until Australia?

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Giuseppe Panebianco


II A – Furci Siculo


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