Verstappen now ’leading the team’ - Horner
"I think he’s enjoying and relishing that role"
While Red Bull and Honda are pushing hard to improve, team boss Christian Horner is more than happy with Max Verstappen.
He says the young Dutchman stepped into high gear after crashing in Monaco a year ago and watching his then teammate Daniel Ricciardo dominate.
"It was probably the lowest weekend of his career," Horner recalls.
"I think he went away from that race and reflected hard on it. Since then he’s really just stepped things up a gear and been a phenomenal force whenever he’s been in the car."
What the F1 world is witnessing in Verstappen this year, Horner says, is "outstanding".
"He’s overachieved in certain aspects and I think he’s got a roundedness of maturity and is very much leading the team development-wise. I think he’s enjoying and relishing that role as well," he added.
Verstappen, who is just 21 but now in his fifth F1 season, agrees with Horner that he has improved in the past year.
"I’ve matured, that’s true, and not just because of last year’s accident," he is quoted by La Presse. "It’s also true in my life in general.
"I’m getting older, I have more experience in life, but it’s also true that sometimes you have to make mistakes before you get better. That’s what happened to me, I think," Verstappen added.
He says he is "not surprised" that Honda is now starting to thrive in F1, and thinks the Red Bull car will also continue to improve.
"Ferrari and Mercedes still have the advantage, but we are closer each race. I think we will often be competitive this season," said Verstappen.
"The goal is of course to win, which would be a great reward for all members of our team and for the Honda people who are working very hard to get there."