Potentially the most entertaining on track moments for the last two races have been between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc. The Austrian Grand Prix went right down to the wire with these two as Verstappen managed an incredible comeback from a disastrous start to overtake Leclerc in the final laps to win the race. Following that, the British Grand Prix had them wheel to wheel down the pit lane with Verstappen judge edging out Leclerc at the exit, only to be overtaken again after going wide through one of the following corners. It seems that these two have brought a real spark back into Formula One recently, injecting some quality racing that the sport has been yearning for.
And their rivalry seems to run much further back than most would have anticipated, following the Austrian Grand Prix a video surfaced of the two during their Karting days sharing their opinions of an on-track altercation. Ironically there seemed to be a role reversal compared to controversy in Austria, as Verstappen argues he was pushed off the track and Leclerc claiming that it was just racing. A backstory such as this will only be good for Formula One, sporting fans love a rivalry that is about far more than just winning but appears to be something personal. A rivalry that can be portrayed like this provides the sport with an immense PR opportunity. The history between the two brings something extra to the narrative of Verstappen versus Leclerc. You can already taste a slight bitterness between the two following the British Grand Prix with Verstappen explaining Leclerc’s robust defence as a result of him still being ‘sore’ from Austria.
Regardless of their backstory and recent events, a real rivalry would be nothing if there wasn’t a huge amount of talent on display. Both Leclerc and Verstappen are fantastic young drivers who are both currently showing potential to be world championship contenders in the future. The racing between the two that happened at Silverstone was the pick of the race with Leclerc seeming to even the score following Austria by finishing in a podium position ahead of Verstappen, who ended up in fifth. If they both continue to fight like they did during the British Grand Prix and keep up the quality of driving they are both exhibiting, then their careers could well become intertwined with one another. I have to admit; I already feel myself being far more invested in the outcome of this rivalry then I am about who wins the world championship.
Their clashing personalities also bring an added pinch of flavour to the competition between the two. Verstappen is clearly quite outspoken, we have seen it multiple times across the last few seasons during press conferences, whilst Leclerc seems to have a slightly calmer persona. When you have two contrasting personalities it forces fans to align themselves with one or the other. Do you side with the wild and charismatic Verstappen? Or do you prefer the calmer and calculated attributes that Leclerc displays? It is rivalries like this that attract a wider audience and keep fans interested, just take into consideration Senna against Prost or Lauda versus Hunt. Both legendary rivalries where the two drivers were fundamentally different.
It may be that Verstappen and Leclerc’s rivalry will never reach the heights that we are all hoping for, and I think that potentially the media is trying to force a rivalry that may not quite be there, myself included. But until we find out, let’s just enjoy the fantastic performances and high-quality racing that these two are bringing to Formula One as I think we all can agree, it has been missing a bit recently.
What do you think of Verstappen versus Leclerc? Will it live up to everything we hope it will be?
Leave your comments down below and thanks for reading!