Max Verstappen had the best F1 season of his career with a strong 3rd place overall but concedes that he was the focus of attention for his team this season, and actually that wasn’t the right thing to do by the team.
Very magnanimous some might say, and perhaps they are correct. A humble admission that the focus maybe shouldn’t be on him, isn’t the type of hot-headed, self-centred ‘star driver’ template we’re used to seeing. After all, the Dutch lad has a reputation for anger and an aloof attitude – certainly in the past – although he says now that he’s calmed down and doesn’t get so angry.
“This year I was a lot calmer in front of the camera. More zen,” the Dutchman admitted to Ziggo Sport, the Dutch broadcaster.
“Generally that works better. I never throw things anyway as my father has never allowed it, but sometimes you cannot help being angry,”
“That’s just being human. But if I am angry, I have learned to wait before I go in front of the cameras.
“When I was very angry, sometimes I skipped the media altogether. That was a problem, but I don’t do that anymore,” he said.
A step change for Verstappen you hear? Perhaps, and maybe this is a good thing for his prospects for the future. One of the main criticisms in the past has been Verstappen’s rash behaviour, certainly off the track.
In an interview with NextGen-Auto, Max Verstappen acknowledged that he has been at the centre of attention at Red Bull for 2019 admitting:
“Maybe we’re focusing a little more on just one car,
“I can really share my ideas, but before that, it always came from both sides… It was a positive thing.”
What’s this? Verstappen lamenting Daniel Ricciardo I hear? Perhaps Verstappen is admitting that 2019 could’ve been better had the team been a team and not solely focussed on one driver.
Maybe Verstappen is missing Ricciardo’s input during race weekends?
Could we be seeing a new 2020 Verstappen, with added humility? Not that I’d wish to mention national stereotypes, but that would not be Dutch now would it?
Perhaps actually Verstappen is thinking of a longer term goal of a potential drive at Mercedes in 2021? Indeed at the FIA end-of-the-season gala in Paris last weekend, the futures of the Dutch driver as well as Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff continued to be hot backstage rumours.
Hamilton suggested to reporters at the Paris event that Verstappen has already been calling Wolff about 2021.
“It’s understandable because everyone wants to win and be part of a successful project,” Hamilton said. “What we’ve built up over these years is very strong, and other teams just don’t have that yet. It takes time to build it.”
In other words teamwork. The dots are joined, we might well see a mature ‘team player’ Max in silver come 2021.