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The key change in Verstappen after 'passionate' 2021 title fight

Max Verstappen wrapped up his second F1 World Championship in 2022, but former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer believes there was a difference in the Dutchman's approach between his two title-winning seasons.

Jolyon Palmer believes there was a key change in the mental approach of Max Verstappen between his two title-winning seasons in F1. Verstappen clinched his first World Championship in 2021 at the end of an intense year-long battle with Lewis Hamilton, a campaign in which the two drivers clashed on more than one occasion. The Dutchman's drive to his second title in 2022 was much smoother, with an early challenge from Charles Leclerc and Ferrari falling away as Red Bull became increasingly dominant. Verstappen took the crown with four races to spare and achieved a record-breaking 15 race wins during the season. While impressed by Verstappen's speed in both seasons, former F1 driver Palmer thinks that there was a biggest difference in the Red Bull driver's mentality during 2022.

Palmer outlines key change in Verstappen

"In terms of the change from last year, he's always been rapid," Palmer told the F1 Nation podcast. "[In 2021], he made very few mistakes and was in a tight fight. [In 2022], he's just relentless. I think the change that I see – it's harder to put the analytics on it – but [it is] more just the mentality of Max. "I think we saw it at the start of the year. He turned up and Red Bull didn't have the best car. They broke down twice in the first three races. "Leclerc was looking like the complete package. I think we all probably thought, around Imola time, 'Ferrari are going to walk away with this'. [It looked like there would be] that much dominance for Ferrari this year that they're going to wrap it up early. "And then the turnaround from [Verstappen] to stay calm through all of that, to put in the year that he's done with wins from anywhere on the grid, taking on so many different challenges through those dominant race victories as well, and doing everything just quite calmly."

Verstappen 'relaxed' after first title win

Palmer acknowledges that Verstappen can still have moments of being "feisty", but believes that the 25-year-old arrived into the 2022 season with a more relaxed approach overall after sealing his first title in the previous year. "Occasionally, you get a bit of a feisty radio message still, like after the pit-stop in Austin," Palmer continued. "But generally, I feel like he's able to sort of compartmentalise his thoughts a lot more, rather than driving with a deep passion that he was driving with [in 2021] with Lewis in the fight. "I just think it's [that], when you become champion, he was relaxed fighting with Leclerc, because he's won that championship already."

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