Max Verstappen using new skill vs Charles Leclerc after Lewis Hamilton title battle

Chris Evans says Max Verstappen needs to 'be a bit nicer'

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Max Verstappen is “driving with more respect” in his battles with Charles Leclerc, according to ex-F1 driver Derek Warwick. The former Lotus star turned race official says the Dutchman is “not just throwing the car down the inside” as he has in previous seasons.

Instead, the reigning champion is “racing properly” and driving with “more confidence” after his title win. Verstappen has challenged Leclerc in every race so far this season but his title charge has been wrecked by reliability failures.

He looked set to finish on the podium in both Bahrain and Australia before pulling out with just a handful of laps remaining. However, Verstappen has picked up a win already this season after using superb racecraft to pass Leclerc in Saudi Arabia.

The Red Bull star’s new skills were also on display in Sakhir as he left Leclerc plenty of room in their epic battle for the win. It’s a complete contrast to battles involving Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton last season where the pair collided on more than one occasion.

Speaking to Express Sport, Warwick highlighted Verstappen’s changed personality since his F1 title win last season.

He said: “The other thing I like about Max this year is he’s driving with more confidence, he’s driving with more respect. He’s not just throwing the car down the inside, he’s actually racing properly against Leclerc which for me as a racing driver and a steward is lovely to see.”

Warwick is not the first to point out the different dynamic between Verstappen and Leclerc compared to his battle with Hamilton. Whilst analysing the pair’s battle in Bahrain, Martin Brundle claimed Verstappen was “significantly less aggressive” than previous seasons.

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He said: “Verstappen’s defence was firm but very fair, and with significantly less aggression than he dished out to Hamilton last season.” Sky Sports’ Kariun Chandhok pointed out the pair were “very respectful” after their Jeddah duel.

He said: “They’ve clearly got a lot of respect for each other, you could tell by the way they went racing; it was clean, they weren’t banging wheels, they gave each other racing room and it was really hard, competitive racing but very respectful.

And they both said the fact that they’ve known each other for so long and know each other’s style, they’re able to compete like that and are able to compete wheel-to-wheel at 200-plus mph on probably the most dangerous track on the calendar we go to and still give each other the space to be fair.”

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