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Max Verstappen

Fellow World Champions weigh in on whether Verstappen will feel more pressure

Max Verstappen's World Champion peers have outlined whether they think the Dutch driver will be feeling more pressure taking on 2022 as the reigning title holder.

Verstappen Lambiase
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Max Verstappen heads into the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship as the reigning World Champion for the first time, having wrapped up the title during last year's season finale in Abu Dhabi.

It's a scenario all the drivers dream of, although few achieve, meaning there's only a select number of people who understand the unique pressures of being the sport's standard holder at the beginning of a new season.

The ones who do understand are, obviously, fellow World Champions. Aside from Verstappen, there are three other drivers on the 2022 grid who have reached the top of the sport and are able to shed some light on what the Dutchman's mentality might be at the start of the campaign.

"Well, to be honest, it's a long time ago for me so, from what I remember, I think it's a boost," four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel told media, including RacingNews365.com, when asked how it feels to enter a season as the champion.

Vettel won his four titles between 2010 and 2013, and the German said he never found it to be a burden.

"It takes a lot of weight - in a way - off your shoulders, but it's a great feeling to start the season as World Champion [and] you have the number one on your car," he added.

"It's a privilege, and I think we would all like to be in [that] position, [but] it can only be one of us!

"I didn't see it as an extra burden. If anything, it was a boost. I think he will probably feel the same but everybody's different."

Alonso in agreement with Vettel

Fernando Alonso, whose two world titles came in 2005 and 2006 as the Spaniard vyed with the might of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari for supremacy of the sport, agreed with Vettel.

The Alpine driver said that winning the title means it's possible to take a slightly more relaxed attitude into future seasons.

"I don't think so," he told media, when asked whether Verstappen might be feeling more pressure.

"I think, if anything, you will have less pressure because you accomplished one of your dreams already.

"It's like you know, from now on, it's more fun and you go into the races knowing that you are World Champion already once.

"You always try to fight for championships and add number two to that, but I think, if anything, he should have less pressure."

Hamilton: Becoming champion didn't change expectations

Lewis Hamilton, asked the same question, was more reluctant to answer in detail, perhaps due to Verstappen's title victory coming at the expense of the Mercedes driver.

Hamilton, a seven-time World Champion, thought back to his first year as a title defender, which was with McLaren in 2009.

"In absolute truth, I don't remember," he commented.

"2009 was, for me... I had a terrible car in 2009! That's what I remember – it being a bit of a difficult year with the car.

"So I didn't find it [had] different expectations, as far as I remember."

Also interesting:

F1 Podcast: All you need to know after the second pre-season test

At the end of the first pre-season test of 2022 in Barcelona, Dieter Rencken and Thomas Maher discuss the on- and off-track developments in Bahrain.

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