Dr Helmut Marko hailed Max Verstappen‘s best season yet at Red Bull, praising the Dutchman’s growing maturity as key to his fine campaign.
Verstappen took three wins in 2019, his best tally in a single year to date, as well as earning his first two career pole positions and amassing more points than any previous year to finish 2019 in a career-best third in the drivers’ championship.
The Dutchman’s results came at odds with some pre-season predictions of Red Bull’s switch to Honda power units taking the team out of race-winning contention, although a sluggish start to the campaign did result in just two podiums across the first eight races.
While a poor start to 2018 was down to Verstappen, however, Marko says the team has to take the blame this time around.
“It was a very good season,” Marko told Formule 1.
“We didn’t have the car in the first half of the season – that was partly due to the chassis, but it was also because the engine development wasn’t that far yet. In Austria, however, we came up with a new front wing, which worked perfectly. Then we had a car that was able to win on many circuits.
“It was a very mature season with Max, he was the most mature Max we’ve ever seen.
“He is calmer and is also incredibly good at the races. Whatever you tell him, he will learn. He can be very fast, while taking good care of his tyres.”
Marko is confident that both Verstappen and Red Bull can maintain momentum into 2020.
He added: “We are very optimistic. We know that we have to work hard and that we need a good car from the first race.
“We also know what we can expect from Honda. What they have promised us, they have delivered so far.
“And with a more mature and highly motivated Max… Of course Mercedes is a favourite, but I think it should be our year.”