Formula One Group managing director Ross Brawn believes that Aston Martin Red Bull Racing‘s Max Verstappen has lost none of his speed despite showing signs of maturity in his approach to racing.
Verstappen came under intense scrutiny at the start of the 2018 season for a number of ill-judged moves that prompted concerns over his aggression and risk-assessment capabilities in wheel-to-wheel combat situations.
After a concerned effort to instil more discipline in his driving, Verstappen saw his results improve – finishing fourth in the Drivers’ Championship and scoring convincing wins in Austria and Mexico. The Dutchman also saw a probable win taken away by a contentious collision with backmarker Esteban Ocon as the latter tried to unlap himself in Brazil.
Brawn noted that it’s “easy to forget” that Verstappen is just 21-years-old and praised the maintenance of his speed even with a more controlled mindset.
“If you think of yourself at that age, with the exposure and pressure, what he is doing is pretty special,” Brawn said, speaking to Formula 1‘s official website.
“What we are seeing with Max is a great maturing of his approach, losing none of his speed and aggression but just being a bit more tempered in terms of how he attacks things.
With Daniel Ricciardo leaving Red Bull for the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team, Verstappen has assumed the definitive role of number one driver at the team alongside new recruit Pierre Gasly, promoted from junior side Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda.
Brawn added that having Verstappen as a constant from 2018 to ’19 will be important to Red Bull, given the team’s switch to Honda engines, and backed the Dutchman as a future champion in the right machinery.
“In the right car and right team, he’s world champion material for sure,” the former Scuderia Ferrari technical director added.
“Max will be the known reference in the team in 2019. That is always helpful in a team to have that continuity, if you have a troublesome car or you have some things to sort out, knowing the driver, knowing how to qualify what he says is very helpful.
“So, I think it is great for the team.”