Max Verstappen offers a defeatist assessment of the title chances after the last GP nightmare

Defending champion Max Verstappen sits sixth in the F1 drivers’ standings after failing to finish two of the three Grands Prix in 2022 so far

Max Verstappen has downplayed his title chances
Max Verstappen has downplayed his title chances

Max Verstappen has claimed he is not even considering defending his F1 title after a nightmare start to the season.

That red bull Man won his first world title in dramatic fashion by overtaking in December Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. And despite the new technical regulations introduced to the sport in this campaign, it was widely expected that the Dutchman would once again take on a strong challenge this time.

But so far the reliability of the car has let him down. Verstappen, 24, was second to Charles Leclerc in Bahrain before a fuel pump problem forced him to retire. Teammate Sergio Perez also had to leave.

He reacted perfectly in Saudi Arabia, this time beating Ferrari man Leclerc, but disaster struck again in Australia on Sunday. Verstappen tried to chase Leclerc as he pulled onto the side of the track and immediately got out of his car after it caught fire.

That puts him sixth overall with just 25 points after his win in Jeddah. The gap between him and leaders Leclerc is already 46 and now the defending champion has downplayed his chances of recapturing it.

“Since we’re so far down in the championship I think it’s 46 points so we have to be up front from now on [of Ferrari]’ he told reporters after the race at Albert Park. “We have to be faster, which we are not at the moment.

A marshal takes care of Verstappen’s car in Melbourne

“And we have to be reliable, which we are not. So there are a lot of things we need to work on. I don’t even think about it [trying to win the championship]. There’s no reason to believe that at the moment.”

Red Bull aren’t the only big team struggling. Mercedes Toto Wolff admits that the adaptation to the new era has also failed He rated Hamilton’s chances this season at less than 50%.

Hamilton was a long way off Verstappen in terms of pace but is three points ahead of him overall after at least managing to finish all three races. His Silver Arrows teammate, George Russell, is second with 37 points.

Ahead of the campaign, Verstappen has pledged his future to Red Bull by signing a multi-million pound deal. The deal runs until the end of the 2028 season.

However, team advisor Helmut Marko has now betrayed him The contract includes a clause that would allow him to leave if the team fails to supply him with a competitive car. It’s a notion that Christian Horner and company will be cautious as they try to address their problems.

The next Grand Prix will be held at Imola on April 24, where Verstappen won in 2021. The drivers will then travel to America for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix.

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