For both Red Bull drivers, 2018 was a season of two halves, and while Daniel Ricciardo‘s deteriorated following his impressive win in Monaco, after a poor start, Max Verstappen‘s went from strength to strength.
By the time the F1 circus headed across the pond to Canada, Ricciardo had two wins under his belt, while Verstappen had just one podium appearance.
Furthermore, other than a clash with his teammate in Azerbaijan which eliminated both Red Bulls, mistakes in China and Monaco also cost him dear while leading to some angry confrontations with the media.
However, Canada saw Verstappen take his second podium of the year and weeks later, after another podium in France, came the first win, at his team’s home race on its own circuit.
A series of strong performances from Belgium saw the youngster leapfrog his teammate in the standings, while at season end he also jumped Valtteri Bottas, finishing just two points down on third-placed Kimi Raikkonen.
Though there is no doubting his speed and bravery, some admit concern at his aggression not to mention the petulant outbursts.
However, Max insists that he is learning from every experience.
Asked if he can admit to his mistakes, he tells Ziggo Sports, Rob Kamphues: “I think I can do that very well.
“I am always very honest to myself to what extent I screwed up or not,” he continues. “In China I went to Vettel after the race and in Monaco I also admitted very quickly that it wasn’t the wind or something like that.”
“When I look back on the season, I have had two races where it just did not go well,” he admits. “Those were China and Monaco, I blame myself for that.
“My dad reminded me of the old days, when sometimes I had moments where things were a little rough,” says the youngster. “He always said: ‘when you think you are not fast enough, you are still fast enough’.
“After Monaco, he reminded me of that and I applied it. You are sitting more relaxed in the car and less eager. It seems like it all comes to you a bit easier.”
Asked if it is always his father he turns to in such moments, he says: “Usually my dad and my manager Raymond. They are also the ones that know me best. In the end, these are not very long conversations. I was aware that it was not good or that it did not go well, but it’s not like we sit down together and decide to throw everything upside down. These are things you learn from. Then you just move on. I am not a long discussions kind of guy, but more of the short talks, clear answers.”
Asked to summarise 2018, he says: “It was a successful season. At the start it was not easy and we learned from it. Then we performed a number of races beyond expectations. I also learned that I always have to listen to myself and believe in myself. You can always improve yourself, because you never stop learning.
“The victory in Austria, in Mexico and the race in Brazil”, he replies when asked about the high points. “In Brazil there was simply the disbelief that something like that happens. Nevertheless, I thought it was a great race. How often does it happen that you overtake two Ferraris and two Mercedes on track? Of course, I was very happy with that.”
As F1 heads into the holidays, the youngster is asked how much time he will get to himself.
“Until the beginning of January,” he reveals. “Then it will get serious and we will start training again.”
Finally, asked about finishing fourth in the standings, he replies: “Let’s put it this way: it is of course better than fifth, but it is also not third or second. For me, the only thing that counts is being number one.”