Max Verstappen will become a stronger driver for having to deal with the recent spell of bad luck and retirements that saw him retire from five of the first eleven races of 2017, according to his team boss Christian Horner.
The Red Bull Racing driver has scored only 67 points in the opening eleven races with just one visit to the podium, while team-mate Daniel Ricciardo has 117 points and five podiums, including a victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, a race Verstappen was forced to retire from early due to a mechanical issue.
But despite the disappointment of the retirements in Bahrain, Spain, Canada, Azerbaijan and Austria, Horner says Verstappen has never lost his temper with the team and remains as focused as ever.
“I think he has shown tremendous maturity, to be honest with you,” said Horner. “He’s obviously had a flair of emotion at the time, but very quickly he’s got himself under control and focused on the next event.
“The way he’s driving this season, he’s just getting stronger and stronger. So I think it’s been a bit of character building for him.
“I think that he will come out the other side a stronger person with this being a difficult part in his very short career so far. But he has dealt with it very, very well.
“He hasn’t been spitting his dummy or throwing his toys out of the pram. He’s had his moment at the race, which is understandable, and then very quickly, boom, focused on the next event. His work ethic is very strong.”
Horner says that Verstappen has handled the pressure of being a Formula 1 driver amazingly well, especially considering the fact the veteran of 51 race starts will only turn twenty-years-old at the end of September.
There has been a large and growing fan base for Verstappen, and Horner believes the next race of the season at Spa-Francorchamps will be awash in a sea of orange thanks to the Dutchman’s presence.
“He’s 19, he’s twenty later this year. It’s often easy to forget that this is a guy that can’t even rent a hire car here,” said Horner. “He should have only just finished his education before going to university.
“So for somebody so young, the way he’s handled all the pressure, the expectation and now obviously the interest particularly in his home country, which follows him around the world.
“You’ve only got to look at the contingent of Dutch fans at Silverstone over the weekend and particularly in Austria. And I’m sure Spa is going to be nuts as well this year. It’s impressive how he deals with that interest.”