Jolyon Palmer thinks it is surprising that the fight between Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen has so far stayed respectful in 2022. Ferrari looked to be struggling to match Red Bull on straight-line pace last time out at the Miami Grand Prix, enabling Verstappen to overtake Leclerc and claim his third win of the season. However, Palmer has questioned whether the Scuderia could have put up more of a defence against their rivals.
Were Ferrari too "conservative" against Red Bull in Miami?
"I just felt slightly more that Ferrari could have done a bit more to try and win in Miami," Palmer told the F1 Nation podcast. "I thought they were a bit conservative; the drivers in the race were a bit too kind to Max, with Carlos [Sainz] letting him sweep around outside at Turn 1. "Tricky position for Carlos, and he's had a run of incidents at the start, so maybe it was a bit cautious, understandably. And then for Charles, the way that the move for the lead in the end [came about] was just a little bit easy, wasn't it? "We're used to seeing Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen barging each other off the road, all guns blazing to try and just get their car in front at any moment in the race. "And the battle this year has been brilliant between Leclerc and Verstappen, but there was not really much defence from Leclerc against Max. "I just felt there could have been a bit more."
Palmer surprised by "respectful" battle between Leclerc/Verstappen
Palmer acknowledges that the Miami International Autodrome was not necessarily an easy track to overtake on, but still feels that Leclerc could have tried something against Verstappen. Furthermore, the former Renault driver had expected the fight between the two to be a little more aggressive than it has been so far in the opening races. "Maybe the straight-line speed [of the Red Bull] would have just been too much [for Leclerc to overtake], and it's perfectly possible because Red Bull have got a big advantage there," Palmer continued. "But, you've got to try, haven't you? If you don't try, then you can't hold on to the lead, if you don't cover the inside against Max Verstappen at the moment. "I thought this could be the new big rivalry between the two. I mean, it's great. The racing that we've had has been so clean, so good from the two of them driving at such a high level. "I'm just surprised how respectful it's been at the moment, considering there's a potential World Championship on the line."
Will the rivalry change as the season progresses?
However, Palmer is anticipating the dynamic of the fight to evolve as the 2022 season goes on. "With every race that goes by, it looks more obvious [that] one of these two is going to win, I think," he added. "The way that Ferrari are and [with] Charles' driving, the way the Red Bull are now coming on strong and [the way] Max is driving. "Mercedes' threat's dwindling, Checo (Sergio Perez) has been driving well, but he's not quite there with Max. Carlos has had a tricky start to the year. "And when everyone else starts moving away, and it becomes a two-horse race, I think that's maybe where you start to see the sparks fly, which is what we had last year."