Red Bull driver Max Verstappen believes that criticism levelled at him earlier in the season during a patch of questionable form was unfounded, then and now he scoffs at the idea he should have changed his driving style, in other words: curb his aggression.
But since the Austrian Grand Prix, which he won, the Dutchman has taken his game to another level. At the Sunday’s United States Grand Prix his mega-performance was rewarded with the Driver of the Day accolade. At the moment he is putting teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the shade.
On the contrary, title contender Sebastian Vettel’s recent spate of mistakes have put him in the spotlight, which Verstappen referenced when speaking to ESPN during a sponsor event in Texas, “You see even a four-time world champion can make mistakes like that.”
“People saying I had to change my driving style, to me that was all big bullsh!t, to be honest. They don’t tell Sebastian to really change his driving style, I’ve never seen the headlines like that.”
“At the end of the day driving on the limit, sometimes over it to achieve the best out of it, especially at such high speeds… mistakes are easily done.”
“I think if I had a championship winning car this year those mistakes wouldn’t have been there, because you don’t always have to drive at 102, 103 percent.”
“It’s kind of over-driving, you want to get the best out of it, and sometimes it didn’t work out. But then also, when you have so much horsepower on the straight you think: well maybe I’ll wait one more corner because I’ll take him on the straight.”
Max: I’m not going to tell Van Persie how to play football and people shouldn’t tell me how to drive
“What we have to do is really do-or-die dive into a corner to get past. In terms of defending as well, that has to be done quite aggressively. So you became a completely different driver when you have a championship-winning car.”
“Most of [the critcism] was just very unfair, so of course at one point I get tired of it. I know what I can do, it was just not coming out at the time, so I was working very hard at home to make sure it did come out. And then in Canada it did.”
“I think I just needed a break from the bad string of results. I didn’t change anything in the way I was preparing for the weekend because I kept believing in myself that it would turned around.”
“Maybe the people who watch it know better. Sometimes I watch a football match and I think I know better but at the end of the day, we don’t. So I think people need to appreciate more what we are trying to achieve in the car.
As for changing his driving style, Verstappen explained, “You can’t. Even if people tell you to do that, that’s how you grew up and that’s how you are.”
“It’s like telling a football player who is always kicking with the left foot, suddenly telling them: no, you have to kick them with the right. It’s the same. Some people can do both, left or right, but most of them are left-footed or right-footed and you can’t just make that switch overnight.”
“I’m not going to tell [Robin] Van Persie how to play football and people shouldn’t tell me how to drive,” insisted Verstappen who finished second in Austin and will be looking to repeat his 2017 victgory in Mexico this Sunday.