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Alonso: Verstappen "will have less pressure" as reigning F1 champ

Two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso believes Max Verstappen will race with less pressure after claiming his first title in 2021.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Red Bull driver Verstappen defeated Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton after a gruelling 2021 campaign, taking his maiden world championship three months ago in Abu Dhabi.

The 2021 title finale was the culmination of a seven-year project for both Verstappen and Red Bull, which started when Verstappen was drafted in at Toro Rosso as a 17-year-old in 2015 and was then promoted to Red Bull's main team during the 2016 season.

When 2005 and 2006 world champion Alonso was asked if Verstappen's first season as a reigning champion would increase the pressure on him, the Spaniard suggested the opposite would be the case.

"I don't think so, if anything you will have less pressure as you have accomplished one of your dreams," the Alpine driver said. "So, from now on it is like more fun when you go into the races knowing you are world champion already once.

"You can always try to fight for more championships and add number two to that, but if anything, he should have less pressure."

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel, for whom his 2010 maiden title was the start of a four-year streak of consecutive championships, agrees a first crown takes "a lot of weight off your shoulders".

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"It's a long time ago for me. What I remember, I think it's a boost. It takes a lot of weight in a way off your shoulders," the German said.

"It's a great feeling to start the season as world champion. You have the number one on your car, so it's a privilege. I think we would all like to be in that position. There can only be one of us.

"I didn't see it as an extra burden. If anything, it was a boost. So, I think he will probably feel the same but then everybody's different."

Off the back of their first world championship together, Verstappen and Red Bull decided to extend the Dutchman's contract by five years, taking his deal to the end of 2028.

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