Max Verstappen still carries a chip on his shoulder

Max Verstappen is on a mission

By: Mikey McGuire

This F1 off-season has been marred with controversy, but one thing remains for certain, Max Verstappen is champion and will be defending his 2021 title this season. But will having one championship under his belt lessen his tenacity and drive to win? 

I don’t think so, while he has expressed in interviews that after one championship, there is less pressure, I do not think that means he is going to phone in the rest of his career. Max Verstappen proved himself capable of a lengthy championship campaign last season, taking it all the way to the final lap, and I do not think he will lose that fighting spirit so soon. 

Verstappen also is still in the prime of his career, it may feel like the 24-year-old has been around for a decade, but we have to remember how young he started. He enters his seventh season in F1 in 2022 and, hoping he has the longevity of some of his peers, he may be around well into his 40s. He still has many championships under his belt, but the true variable going into 2022 will be the cars’ performance.

Many things are set to change from his championship-winning car. 2022 will be the first year for the new aerodynamic regulations, meant to increase traceability and allow more teams to fight up at the front. This may provide a new challenge for Verstappen, as he really only had Lewis Hamilton challenging at the front for the majority of his championship season. 

This new season also begins the first year of Red Bull Powertrains, the new in house engine manufacturer started by the team to replace Honda, who recently exited the sport. Not much should change in the engine department however, while their name isn’t on the car, they will still be involved with assembly of this year’s Power Unit.

Another major factor in the 2021 championship run was each team number two drivers. Sergio Perez, who was key in defending against Lewis Hamilton in the championship race last year, remains with Red Bull in 2022. Mercedes have replaced Valterri Bottas, who was often absent in battles near the front of the grid last year, with George Russel. This young blood in the team may provide an extra thorn in the side of Verstappen championship defense next season, should the two teams remain close rivals.

Max Verstappen has to deal with many variables that were not present last season if he is going to secure a second championship. If he retains the maturity and continues to perform at the level he was last season, he should have no problem surmounting them.

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