Max Verstappen may currently be sitting pretty atop the Formula 1 Drivers' championship standings, but the Dutchman was 46 points behind Charles Leclerc three races into the 2022 campaign.

The Red Bull Racing driver admitted that he had written off his chances of fighting for a second title after two retirements in the opening three races. Leclerc and Ferrari were the clear favourites owing to the Austrian team's reliability woes, but they were quick to turn it around.

Red Bull were able sort out their issues, and Verstappen has now won five of the first eight races, which includes three consecutive wins in Imola, Miami and Spain. Leclerc and Ferrari, on the other hand, are going through a miserable spell with two retirements in the last three races.

The Monegasque driver has qualified on pole in the last four races, but has failed to win even a single one. In Spain and Azerbaijan, Leclerc's Ferrari suffered catastrophic engine failures while he was in the lead, while a team strategy error cost him the win at his home race in Monaco.

Max Verstappen
Red Bull's Max Verstappen is looking to build on his win in Saudi Arabia ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP

Verstappen's phenomenal form has seen him move 34 points clear of Leclerc, who has even dropped behind the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez. While the Dutch racer is enjoying his time at the top, he is aware as to how fast things can change in F1, especially with 14 races still remaining in the season.

"Starting the season before we had done any races, you don't know," Verstappen told the Talking Bull podcast, as quoted on RN365. "Maybe we have a good car, maybe we don't. Then it seemed like we had a competitive car, so we can be in the fight for the championship."

"But then after retiring two times, and I was 46 points down, I was like, 'This [Championship] is gone, this is not happening,' or at least it will take a very long time to catch up," he added. "And then, basically in three races, as a team we turned it around and both of us are now up there."

"It's quite satisfying, but of course we also know it can also change really quickly, so we have to be on our toes. We have to really focus on not retiring anymore, because already the two we had are too many."

The F1 juggernaut arrives in Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix this weekend. Ferrari and Leclerc will be hoping to end their spate of bad luck and reduce their deficit in both the Drivers' and Constructors' Championships.

Charles Leclerc
Charles Leclerc after his Ferrari broke down last Sunday when in the lead POOL via AFP / Manu Fernandez