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Max Verstappen

Berger sees key advantage for Verstappen in battle with Leclerc

Gerhard Berger has offered his views on the developing F1 championship battle between Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

Verstappen Leclerc Austria
To news overview © XPB

Ex-F1 driver Gerhard Berger reckons Max Verstappen's "brilliant" race management and Red Bull's strategy calls will be the decisive factors in this year's battle for the title.

Verstappen holds a 38-point lead over Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc at the halfway mark of the season, with the battle between their teams ebbing and flowing.

After Leclerc started the campaign with two victories in three races, Verstappen enjoyed a run of five wins out of six, capitalising on Ferrari's reliability woes.

And while Ferrari have won the last two races (with Carlos Sainz in Britain and Leclerc in Austria), Berger thinks Verstappen holds a crucial advantage for the races to come.

Berger sees Verstappen and Red Bull as "nearly unbeatable"

In an appearance on the F1 Nation podcast, the 10-time Grand Prix winner – who raced for the likes of Ferrari, McLaren and Benetton across the 1980s and 1990s – was asked for his verdict on the Verstappen/Leclerc fight.

"Leclerc has impressed me with his talent, with his speed on one lap in qualifying – he's doing very, very well," Berger began.

"[But] in the racecraft, I have seen a little bit of an advantage to Max. He's brilliant over the whole race, using every possibility.

"He's very strong at overtaking, he's very strong in wheel-to-wheel fighting and he's very strong at reading the race.

"Combine this with the strategy of Red Bull, who are extremely good, and the good pit-stops of Red Bull... I think it's nearly an unbeatable package."

Verstappen "even better" than 2021, Leclerc making mistakes

Berger added that he thinks Verstappen is driving better than ever after his breakthrough title in 2021, while seeing room for improvement with Leclerc.

"I think Verstappen is even better than last year," continued the Austrian.

"I think to win a championship, it takes a lot of pressure away from you."

As for Leclerc, Berger added: "He did one or two mistakes this year, which shouldn't happen when he's really serious for the championship.

"At Imola [with the spin] at the chicane, just finish third and take the points. This is where Lewis [Hamilton] impresses me so much. Lewis is always there and, whenever the door is open, he's on the podium and takes the points.

"In these areas Leclerc still needs a little bit of experience, but in general he is absolutely a guy who can win championships."

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