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Max Verstappen

Horner: Max is ambitious and cannot stand defeat

It is no secret that Max Verstappen has been frustrated by bad luck this season, his demeanour not aided by the fact that Red Bull are a tad down on the power stakes relative to Mercedes and Ferrari, but his team boss Christian Horner believes the prodigious youngster’s luck will change.

Horner said of the Dutch teenager, “Max is an ambitious driver and he cannot stand the defeat, which is the hallmark of the great champions.”

“[He has been] unbelievably unlucky, when he was out in Spain which wasn’t his fault, and then suffered repeated breaks in Montreal and Baku when the podium was within his reach.”

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“Max was running second in Montreal when the battery failed. He was probably in position to win the Grand Prix in Baku when the engine failed. It’s nothing he’s doing wrong so he can take real solace from that. The summer break comes at the right time to take him for a better second half of the championship.

At 19 Verstappen is impressing Horner with his attitude, “Very mature, especially when you consider how young he is. In England, Max can’t even rent a car! It’s all part of his trajectory and learning curve. He’s 19 years of age, he’s had a few rough races. That will turn.”

“His talent is growing and it’s exciting how much talent this young guy has got. It’s impressive how he deals with the pressure, expectations and interest, especially from the Netherlands. As a driver he is becoming stronger but also as a human.”

“He will suddenly put a run of three races together where everything will go his way. Sometimes in sport that’s the way things happen.”

Horner likes to boast about the harmony between Danial Ricciardo and Verstappen (as he did at one point during the Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel era within the team) but this relationship took a mighty blow when Verstappen clattered into Ricciardo on the opening lap of a race they could have won.

The Red Bull team chief explained, “No one is perfect, so it’s always about improving in small ways. That’s also exactly the way we work as a team. While already at a high level, Max has the same desire to get more and more out of himself.”

Finally on the matter of a new contract, amid interest from big teams including Ferrari, Horner said, “A contract must reflect mutual interest. I am convinced that once we succeed there will be no team for which he would rather drive. It does not make sense to talk about the longer term because we must first offer him a car that he can win with.”

Big Question: Is Red Bull the right place for Max at this point in his career?