Verstappen did Canadian GP “on his own” after Red Bull talks – Horner

2018 Canadian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen changed how he handled the Canadian Grand Prix weekend following discussions between him and Red Bull, according to Christian Horner.

A series of incidents in the opening races of the season, culminating in a practice crash which ruined his Monaco Grand Prix weekend, left Verstappen under intense scrutiny when he arrived in Canada. Horner said his driver responded with a quick and error-free performance.

“I think he’s had a very strong weekend. He’s been quick in every session. Qualified really well, raced very well.

“We went for it on the hyper-soft, trying to get the start, [it] nearly worked. And then of course he finished within a tenth of a second of Valtteri. I don’t think we could’ve got much more than that.”

Horner pointed out Verstappen had changed how he handled the weekend following discussions between the team and driver.

“His approach here has been slightly different – he’s just been here on his own,” Horner explained, referring to Verstappen’s reduced entourage in Montreal.

“It’s the first race I think he’s ever done on his own. It’s just something different, whether it’s contributed in any way is impossible to say. He’s still evolving and maturing as a driver as he gains more experience.”

The problems Verstappen encountered in the opening races of the year were not untypical for a professional sportsperson, according to Horner.

“In any sport you see sportsmen have periods where things don’t go quite as well for them as others. And that’s obviously been very public for him. Hopefully his luck now is about to change. This was a fantastic performance from him this weekend.”

Verstappen’s recent run-ins with other drivers didn’t discourage him from fighting Valtteri Bottas hard for second place at the start of the race, Horner added.

“You don’t want to de-fuse that. That’s part of what makes him so exciting. He had a very clean weekend this weekend. I’m sure it’ll give him a bunch of confidence heading into the next batch of races.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 39 comments on “Verstappen did Canadian GP “on his own” after Red Bull talks – Horner”

    1. So yeah I struggle with this. Firstly, Verstappen was awe-inspiring last year, and that was with his entourage around. Yes, getting rid of the yes-sayers (although, is his father that?) will make the advice and feedback from RB stick more. But last year he didn’t need that. So where does this come from?
      I still think that some of the criticism of this period he has had has been too much, some of the incidents are blown out of proportion, and what’s the main issue is how they compound eachother (all his mistakes have been made by others too, even the very best. It’s just that he made them all in a rather short span) and not his pace, which has still largely been Ricciardo-busting.
      I think Verstappen needs to listen to others more, not radically change his approach. I also think this step may help, but I wonder what changed between his amazing 2017 and now. Not the pace, clearly, but what did?
      Anyway, here’s hoping he finds a better middle.

      1. Yes, getting rid of the yes-sayers (although, is his father that?) will make the advice and feedback from RB stick more. But last year he didn’t need that. So where does this come from?

        change for the sake of change (placebo or not being another question)?

        1. Maybe, indeed. And frankly the less Jos, the better. Jos instilled in him the zero sum mentality which cost him in Bahrein, China, maybe Baku, but especially in responding to this. Jos made him so intrinsically self-assured and strong-willed, that no matter of advice seeped through. It led to ridiculous (but in the context understandable) remarks about head-butting journalists, about not changing his ways, etc. If he can keep the killer mentality in the racing car but combine it with a more introspective one out of the car, he’s the complete driver.

      2. I agree with all of that. He did have a great year last year and so the people turning round and saying this year that he’s not ready for F1 or too immature seem to have short memories. I do think though that even last year he had maybe a few incidents which were borderline and even though he got away with them, they could have gone against him as they have this year.

        So I think he has to tone down the risk taking a bit as the start of this season has shown. But that will come with experience. Perhaps he was a bit overconfident given how well he went last year, and that caused him to overdrive a little bit. Sport is very psychological so a couple of incidents can have a knock on affect. I’m surprised how many incidents he had but I don’t think his seat was ever really at risk, I’m sure the results will start to come and wouldn’t be at all surprised if by the end of season he’s ahead of Ricciardo in the standings.

        1. @keithedin nice analysis, I think it’s spot on. In the race, you could see his move on Bottas was a lot more on the safe side – he could have squeezed him (with the risk of damage), as he was ahead before turn 2, but he chose to give Bottas room and accept that that may have been the last opportunity to overtake him.

        2. I think some fair and good points are being made here. I wonder if Max is just that driven to win, and with his weekend comments usually amounting to the fact that they’re still lacking some hp, he has perhaps been overdriving it, out of a ‘need’ to take more risks with said less straight line speed. He might have been having a ‘what have we got to lose’ sort of sentiment in the back of his mind. And I do think RBR is and will remain for the season alone in third in the WCC, unable to answer to Ferrari and Merc, others behind unable to touch RBR. ie. the lost points may not affect things in general all that much for the team.

        3. @keithedin
          I think he did get a bit too overconfident, grabbed the big dollar contract and thought this year he may be Champion.
          He wont be. But he has bounced back well and he will be as great as what people that know predicted.
          I think he has also worked out that Danny Ric is no push around and probably much better than he initially gave he credit for, but is wising up to that.

          Max might bring his Dad as and Entourage but at least Jos would know the correct lap to wave the flag- that was a bit of a disgrace – its great Lewis brings his friends but let them stay out back in Hospitality – poor reflection on Liberty !!

      3. 2017, 5 DNF’s over the first 9 races… 2017 was a worse start than 2018 for Verstappen, for other reasons though.
        Some mistakes this year have been blown out of proportion (Bahrain, Baku partially to blame), Spain hardly worth mentioning, Monaco just bad luck the team could not repair his car in time.

        fe Ricciardo’s car failed after FP3 at China could be repaiered just in time and became the hero of the day

      4. @hahostolze @Matn – On @Matn’s point, yes 2017 was a worse start, but it is actually quite close on points. He had 45pts at this point last season, he now has 50. And if he had 2 retirements, like last year, he’d be in basically the exact same position as last year. Also, just because he’s had fewer retirements does not make it much better. Yes, fewer repairs and DNFs, but he’s had spins that dropped him positions and lost points and mistakes that could have been avoided with a cooler head. He is young; but if he starts to really understand those times when he needs to fight and when he needs to just get the best points he can, he will be even more dangerous. Lots of people say they want a driver who fights for every position in every race, but methodically collecting points on bad weekends will move you up the WDC standings and into better bargaining positions.

        To @hahostolze, I don’t think the criticism is blown out of proportion. Vettel caught flak early on, so did Hamilton, as have others (e.g. Grosjean). You can still be a shark and out for the kill, but you also have to know when to back out and live to fight another lap. Too often VER has been fighting to save 2-3pts and ends up losing more by spinning or crashing.

        The Baku example is a good one. I think both drivers deserved some blame but it was a stupid fight. VER has a contract, and while I get he wants to be the top dog in the team, being a team player shows that you are the right driver to have. VER will have faster weekends and slower weekends, but he has not yet accepted that being ahead on the track is not the indicator of the best driver, or of a good driver/teammate. Like I mentioned above, when he learns when to push and when to take it easy, I think he will be even more of a threat. He’s not the only one who does this (VET last year), but the sooner he learns, the better off he will be.

        1. Baku really showed RBR are a rare breed, they let them fight while it was clear both had their gloves off and where willing to crash before giving up the fight. The track also played a part in this somehow strange battle, though Verstappen was a tad bit faster he could not shake off Ricciardo due to enormous tow and long DRS straight…. it did make the race interesting though.

          Last season Ricciardo crashed two times during quali in the first few races, this year Ricciardo wasn’t flawless either crashing and spinning twice in Spain… spinning in once Australia was more dramatic for Verstappen than spinning twice at Spain was for Ricciardo. Having an engine change after FP3 in China seemed more simple than checking a leaking gearbox after FP3 in Monaco again an example one was awefully lucky, while the other wasn’t.

          On two occoasions RBR has a descent change of winning…. remarkably Verstappen just ruined those two oppertunties and Ricciardo score two P1’s

          The start of the season was quite contradictive at RBR while Verstappen seems to be faster, he is down on luck and down on consistacy, Ricciardo picks up the points.

      5. @hahostolze I don’t think it’s that difficult to make a guess at what happened to Max. Last year he had bad reliability at the start, then Red Bull improved and were suddenly contending up front. But by then the championship had become a 2-way between Vettel and Hamilton with no chance for Ricciardo or Verstappen. So that left him free to risk a lot to win, while, conversely, Vettel and especially Hamilton erred on caution when tousling with him at the race start etc. Maybe he didn’t quite realize how aggressive they would be at the start of a season and a level points field. So at the start of this season, he duly found out with various aggressive passes – including on Hamilton (twice) and Vettel – not working out as they defended robustly. Add some practice errors and the Baku incident (which I put down more to Ricciardo being over-ambitious after Verstappen had defended superbly) and it seems like a meltdown.

        Anyhow, he did the right thing. Good qualification, then let Bottas go at the start and converted 3rd place.

    2. Reminds me a lot of Hamilton’s approach to a racing weekend, and how he changed things around, stopped his Dad managing him etc. Maybe Max will start to adjust his approach longer term.

    3. Max said he won’t change his approach, and then horner says he did change his approach? When bottas came back at him in turn 1,2 I expected max to do a dirty block, so maybe he has changed.

      1. Well I think it’s probably safe to say Max meant he is not going to change from being a hard charger on the track, and then besides that, if through talking to the team and his family there are a few things that can be slightly tweaked off the track that can help, then why not?

        I think we just saw that Max is not so stubborn that after the recent week’s baggage he’d still risk anything against VB. Probably helped that he was already sitting in a podium spot off the grid, and after the first few turns that was still the case, so not worth losing that. Also his tires should have had him biding his time to fight VB some more in the early laps, but obviously that didn’t work out.

      2. Why should a block, made by Verstappen, always be dirty?

    4. I’m really dissapointed that Max can’t drive and think like Alain Prost did towards the end of his career and mature age.
      Still, at least he isn’t driving around in a Senna fancy dress costume during a 5 year barren spell.

      1. Disappointed that a 20 year old isn’t as wise yet as a proven WDC and seasoned 35 year old? Alright then that sounds fair. Who is being referenced in the second sentence?

        1. I’m taking the p@ss out of the posters for the last week who failed to accept Max was naturally immature. It was even pointed out his frontal lobes are unlikely to be fully developed.

          Lewis Hamilton was the driver who everyone forgets when bashing Alonso and Max, that went 5 years without a title, had small periods of bad form, made mistakes, complained, lied etc etc

          At least the pitchforks have been put down now.

          1. Lol kind of thought that must have been the case.

          2. This is one of the many Max bashing posts from @Todfod (who has displayed nothing but ingorance regarding young men, their young brains and maturing)

            He needs to mature enough to understand when to be aggressive and when to avoid unnecessary risks.
            He might be a fast and exciting driver, but without proper usage of his brain he’ll never be a serious title contender.

            Like I sarcastically said. Max basically needs to develop his brain overnight into that of a 35 year old Alain Prost to please the critics going down this path.

            There is a natural reason why Jos and Anthony still hung around their talented Sons into their early 20s.

      2. Close your post with a /s to avoid confusing the slightly thick-headed like me :-)

      3. José Lopes da Silva
        11th June 2018, 14:00

        Best comment ever, but you should know that sarcasm doesn’t work well online (I’m not being sarcastic.) Max is likely the most impressive rookie that arrived on F1 since late 1991, and the younger of all of them. Of course, he needs a lot of maturity, and so do critics. Can’t hear a single voice stating that Ricciardo is EIGHT (8) years older than Verstappen.
        Anyway, I think Hamilton also got a lot of undeserved criticism through all the first half of this decade, and mainly for sociological and political reasons.

    5. Max can’t drive and think like Alain Prost did towards the end of his career

      Maybe you should revisit this in 15 years when we have the facts :p

      1. I was being sarcastic to sum up the previous week of criticisms towards Max.
        Of course Max will drive/think differently when he 30-40 years old. Just like most of the other drivers have shown. Anyone would think a young sports person maturing over time is a new phenomena

        1. totally missed that ;)
          Same happens to some of my sarcastic comments, @bigjoe

    6. So much hype for Verstappen surprises me. Actually, this weekend we saw Ricciardo passing a Ferrari and a Mercedes with an old engine and no one is taking about him. He is not as fast as Verstappen, but he is not a pinhead, driving as if he was still driving karts.
      I really believe Riccciardo deserves more attention from RBR and media.

      1. Only last week RBR said that ‘Riccaido is a good teacher for Max’ (as well as being slower all weekend he also tried to copy Max’s car set-up )

        “He has a very good teacher in the car next door to him,” said Horner. “Max has an abundance of talent and had some harsh lessons this year and I think a modified approach will benefit him. [The Monaco] weekend was very painful for him.

        “He’s very aware. We talk weekly. Of course what frustrates him is that he’s working harder than ever, feels fitter than ever and it feels like he’s just trying a bit too hard at the moment. When you get into a spiral and try harder I think you just need to hit the reset button.”

      2. I can’t agree. I think DR is doing a fine job this season making everyone stand up and take notice, right at the right time…contract time.

      3. @okif1 – while I don’t deny that Ricciardo is the driver who reliably delivers, I think his overtaking Hamilton in the pitstops was aided in part due to Mercedes having to fiddle with Hamilton’s headrests (something I came to know only via Keith’s article). His overtake of Kimi was a dead cert – the moment I saw the starting grid on Saturday, I knew that Kimi will stay true to losing a place or two on the start, especially with Ricciardo behind him.

        I don’t think any attention is being detracted from Ricciardo in general, he is the hottest property on the driver’s market, and is going to make for some tough decision making at Mercedes and Ferrari. Right now, I think people are just waiting to see who blinks – Ricciardo with a contract, or RBR with their engine decision, and then even more reams will be written about it all.

        1. I don’t think DR has any place to go. Merc will sign up Bottas and keep the Merc family happy. Can’t see Ferrari taking on DR for 2 reasons: 1. Vettel, 2. Leclerc. Any other team would be a step down for DR.

          1. It does appear so, doesn’t it? I still think its a question of who blinks first – if Red Bull switch to Honda, Ricciardo will be more inclined to leave, and will have a weaker bargaining position with teams, making it more likely that Mercedes or Ferrari might consider him again. However, if Ricciardo signs another team in the interim (unlikely), Red Bull can quite safely switch to Honda and reclaim Sainz for the parent team.

            1. I don’t think Sainz is considered RBR material (yet). He’d have to beat hulkenberg first, but thats not the case. 5-2 in quali battle and 32 to 24 points.

              He might get promoted, but he”ll be a Kvyat, not a Max or Dan.

        2. @phylyp I think the issue was more that Hamilton was stuck behind Verstappen and couldn’t do a great in- and outlap. Also he already messed up the start of the out lap when he almost slid off coming back on track in front of a Sauber.

          Ricciardo’s stop was a few tenths faster, but their total pitlane times were almost the same.

          1. Also he already messed up the start of the out lap when he almost slid off coming back on track in front of a Sauber.

            @patrickl – oh, yes, I’d forgotten that happened!

            Ricciardo’s stop was a few tenths faster, but their total pitlane times were almost the same.

            Now that’s interesting, I wonder what sort of work Mercedes did on Hamilton’s headrest that it was done so quickly so as to not affect his time noticeably.

      4. @okif1
        Ric was using a brand new engine. He was on Sky explaining how the new engine actually caused him to be slower……

    7. ‘I’m 29 now. It feels like a long, long time since I started – I’m starting to get with the older guys – and I feel like I’m maturing.’

      ‘So hopefully that will show in my results, my performances, the things I say and do.’

      Lewis Hamilton – 2014

    8. That battle between Max & Bottas would have been different if Bottas was leading the championship or Max was going for the championship for example.
      What I want to say: it’s hard to interpret the action.
      If Bottas would have lead the championship and Max would have challenged him really hard, Bottas would have backed of to save his championship.
      But now they both were in different situations that made them both decide to keep it respectful.

      When Max came into F1 he right away let everyone know how hard it was going to be to challenge him. So right away there was this respect/fear for him.
      That’s what the great ones do: they set the standard themselves. And do not let other drivers tell them.

    9. The F1 show needs Max no matter what his perceived approach to racing may be, probably more than any other driver on the grid.

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