Red Bull’s Max Verstappen ended Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes’ reign of dominance in 2021 by winning the F1 World Championship.
Verstappen won last week’s Canadian GP, which takes his total number of F1 race wins to 26. At just the age of 24, he ninth in the all time list of race wins, ahead of the legendary Niki Lauda.
His 2021 Title battle with Hamilton was legendary to say the least. The two went toe to toe for the Title throughout the season, which ultimately ended in the Dutchman’s favor. However, according to former F1 Champion Jacques Villeneuve, Verstappen is still not a true World Champion.
The Wall of Champions is calling…
— Formula 1 (@F1) June 7, 2019
The former Williams driver said that Verstappen can only be a true World Champion if he crashes into the ‘Wall of Champions’ in circuit Gilles Villeneuve. This wall is at the exit of turn 14, and has earned the nickname because of several World Champions crashing into it.
“How disappointing!” Villeneuve said. “How disappointing, you are only a true champion if you hit that wall. I mean, I started it, hit it twice, Michael did it, Damon hit it, Jenson hit it as well. So, I don’t think Max hit it. He needs to hit the wall first.”
His suggestion that Verstappen needs to crash into the wall was of course made as a joke in the latest episode of the F1 Nation podcast.
Is Max Verstappen confident about defending his World Title crown?
The 2022 season went off to a dismal start for Verstappen. He suffered two power unit related DNFs in the first three races of the year, and his Title defense chances looked bleak.
However, those were early days and since then, the tides have began to favor him and the Red Bull camp. In fact, reliability issues are now a bigger concern in the Ferrari team, who have stepped up as their main rival for the season. Verstappen, who was trailing Charles Leclerc by 46 points at one stage, now leads by 49.
ᴡʜᴀᴛ ᴀ ʀᴀᴄᴇ 🔥
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) June 19, 2022
However, in spite of the good form, Verstappen remains vary of his chances, particularly because there is still a lot of races left for Ferrari to capitalize.
“It’s still a very long way and I know the gap of course is quite big,” he said. “But I also know that it can switch around very quickly. I mean, race three I was 46 behind, so we just need to stay calm, we need to focus, we need to improve.”