Max Verstappen has been told he is not a “true champion” of Formula 1 – because he did not crash at the Canadian Grand Prix.
The Dutchman won the race in Montreal, fending off a late challenge from Carlos Sainz to take the chequered flag. He avoided crashing at the Wall of Champions – given that name as title-winners have a habit of hitting the wall at the final corner – though he did brush against it in practice.
Jacques Villeneuve is one of those who has previous with Turn 14, having crashed there on two occasions. Speaking as a guest on the F1 Nation podcast, he said he was “disappointed” that the Red Bull racer did not add his name to the list of champions who have crashed at that final corner.
“You are only a true champion if you hit that wall,” said the 1997 title winner with a chuckle. “I mean, I started it – hit it twice – Michael did it, Damon hit it, Jenson hit it as well. I don’t think Max hit it – he needs to hit the wall first.”
Following the race, Verstappen was pleased to extend his championship lead to 46 points over team-mate Sergio Perez despite the late incident which threatened his victory. “The safety car didn’t help,” he said as he assessed how the race had gone.
“I think, overall, they were very quick in the race, so it would have been really tough for me to close that gap to the end, even on fresher tyres. But yeah, it was really exciting at the end. I mean, I was giving it everything I had.
“Of course, Carlos was doing the same. You know, following is tricky around here. I could see he was pushing, charging, pushing. But of course, naturally when you’re under DRS it’s a bit easier to charge. So yeah, the last few laps are a lot of fun.
“Luckily this year we seem pretty quick on the straight, so that helps a lot. Overall I think that we’re very strong in the race. So yes, it would have been tricky to catch up, but then of course the safety car came out so they had fresher tyres. So then I was like… Well, I think I would have preferred attacking instead of defending but luckily it worked out.”