Red Bull ace Max Verstappen has become very popular among Brazilian motorsport fans according to former Formula 1 driver and local hero Rubens Barrichello.
Once strongly represented in the top flight, featuring F1 legends like Ayrton Senna, Emerson Fittipaldi and Nelson Piquet as well as multiple race winners including Felipe Massa and Barrichello himself, there is no longer a single Brazilian driver on the grid for their passionate fans to cheer for.
But Barrichello says told De Telegraaf Brazilian people are now turning their attention to Dutchman Verstappen, “Max is an aggressive driver. People think he’s crazy. He is also very outspoken. He says what he thinks. His weekend at Interlagos was ten out of ten. It all makes him a very popular driver in Brazil.”
The 22-year-old has a soft spot for Interlagos, last year he nearly won the race but was punted out of the lead by Esteban Ocon but he recovered to finish second. In 2016, Verstappen impressed on his way to third place in damp conditions in which he shone.
With a very similar view about Verstappen is 1997 F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, “In my opinion, he is ready to become world champion. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to be careful with what he says.”
However, speaking on Sky Italia Villeneuve admitted he was not impressed with Verstappen for recently accusing Ferrari of “cheating” with its engine.
“In that case, he was talking about something he cannot know about. That is the whole problem with that statement,” ventured Villeneuve.