Martin Brundle believes that Max Verstappen took a less aggressive approach to defending against Charles Leclerc in the Bahrain Grand Prix, compared to the Dutchman's previous battles with Lewis Hamilton. The Ferrari of Leclerc went head-to-head with Verstappen for several laps of the season-opening race, with Leclerc eventually coming out on top and going on to win the event. Meanwhile, Verstappen was forced to retire in the latter stages. Watching this on-track duel unfold left Brundle feeling positive about the impact of F1's new technical regulations, with one of the aims of these being to allow for closer racing.
Brundle "relieved" to have seen close racing in Bahrain GP
"I left for the airport more than just relieved that we'd seen close racing" Brundle wrote in his column for Sky Sports . "I thoroughly enjoyed the race and all that it promises for the seasons ahead, and the cars look great both stationary and out on track,if a touch ponderous in the slow corners. "It wasn't a total revelation, and as Ross Brawn's engineering mind puts it 'we only have a sample of one so far', but it was clear from the testing and particularly racing in Bahrain that the drivers can follow each other more closely and without experiencing anywhere near as much unpredictable sliding followed by overheating of their tyres. "The cars remain very heavily aero loaded, of considerable girth, and extremely fast, and so they'll never trade paint and places with each other like a hoard of Minis or Formula Fords, but that's fine so long as we can experience the attack and counter-attack we witnessed between Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen over three laps on Sunday night."
"Fascinating" to see how Leclerc/Verstappen battle plays out
Like many fans, Brundle enjoyed watching Verstappen and Leclerc's battle, and found it intriguing to observe how each driver approached the fight. "It was very interesting to observe those two slugging it out," the former F1 driver said. "Max would slice up the inside into turn one having used the slipstream, DRS rear wing open, and superior straight-line speed to remarkable effect down the pit straight, along with late braking. "Charles was measuring this constantly in his mirrors, accepting the inevitable, and then intelligently ensuring he was second car past the DRS detection point, meaning he could get the rear wing open on the way up to turn four and regain the lead. "Verstappen's defence was firm but very fair, and with significantly less aggression than he dished out to Hamilton last season. Indeed, it was Leclerc who sliced across his nose into turn four on one occasion. "It will be fascinating to see how this plays out as the championship unfolds."