Newey: Verstappen bright enough to learn from mistakes

Max Verstappen may sometimes appear impervious to criticism but Red Bull technical head Adrian Newey says Formula 1’s youngest race winner has been doing some soul-searching as the mistakes mount up.

Verstappen, 20, has stood on the podium only once in the six races so far this season and has had two retirements— while Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo has won twice.

The youngster has also drawn plenty of comment and criticism for his errors.

“We’re all human,” Newey told Reuters at a Motorsport Hall of Fame event late on Monday, “He can try and shrug off everybody else’s comments and opinions but when you’ve had a run like that, you question yourself a bit. Of course you do.

“But I think he’s tough enough that he’ll come through that. He’s had one of those bad runs. He’s a great driver, he’s very quick and at some point he’ll shed that (poor sequence) again and be on his way,” added Newey.

“Part of being a racing driver is learning from your mistakes and I think he’s bright enough to do that.”

Former world champion Nico Rosberg said after Monaco, where Verstappen crashed in final practice and lined up last, that he had not seemed to learn at all despite being in his fourth season.

“At the moment everything is going wrong for him but I don’t have much hope for him anymore,” added the German.

Team principal Christian Horner said after the Monaco crash that Verstappen knew he had to cut out the mistakes.

“He needs to learn from it, and stop making these errors. He knows that more than anybody,” said Horner. “For the whole team to only be running one-legged with such a strong car is frustrating.”

Verstappen finished third in Spain last month but retired in Azerbaijan after a collision with Ricciardo. In China he tangled with Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, ending up fifth.

He also collided with Hamilton in Bahrain and retired, while in Australia he spun and finished sixth after starting fourth.

Verstappen, who has a long-term contract, will be Red Bull’s main hope at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, with Ricciardo facing at least a 10-place grid penalty due to power unit usage.

While Montreal has long straights likely to put the Red Bull car at a disadvantage to Mercedes and Ferrari, the medium to low speed corners should be much more to its liking.