F1 legend Mario Andretti backed 2021 world champion Max Verstappen to get “even better” in 2022.
Verstappen finally achieved his dream and won the championship on the last lap of the last race of 2021. He beat a seven-time world champion in Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton to do it, and did it as the underdog at Abu Dhabi.
With the new season arriving in a few weeks, the Dutchman will have to do something he has never done before, and that’s defend a championship. He will have no shortage of challengers, but the F1 icon insisted Super Max would raise his level.
Andretti backed Verstappen to get “even better” in 2022 and build on what he achieved in the previous season.
“You can say all you want, but once you accomplish your ultimate goal, a lot of pressure’s off your shoulders,” he told Racingnews365.com.
“There’s no better situation than being more relaxed. Sometimes, when you’re in that frame of mind, you just do things even better.
“He’s in a very good place. He fought so hard (for the title) and now he probably relishes to try to repeat it. That’s what drives you, that’s what keeps you motivated. But at least he has that one under his belt, which is huge.
“I can only express what my thoughts were on a situation like that, when you accomplish something that’s your ultimate goal. When you finally do it, oh my goodness, from there on things are all better!”
“When you achieve something like that, usually the fans have a different appreciation,” Andretti explained further.
“You could see how strong Verstappen’s fan base was (last season), by showing these orange plumes (of smoke) and all that. You had grandstands full of them!
“You have justified their confidence in you, and you know that they have a special appreciation now that you’ve done it, so it’s all good. All of those things are positive, and that’s what you work for, that’s what you sweat for.”