Adrian Newey makes ‘naughty and silly’ admission about Max Verstappen

2021 saw Max Verstappen narrowly beat Lewis Hamilton to his first championship title after a fierce battle.

The title race between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in 2021 was one of the most entertaining battles for championship glory that fans have seen for some time.

The battle for the title went right down to the final lap of the season finale in Abu Dhabi, where a controversial safety car procedure saw Verstappen beat his rival to his first title.

The season was full of controversy, with the two heavyweights of the F1 world coming to blows on numerous occasions, often resulting in a long and hotly debated inquest into the actions of both drivers.

The pair came together in Brazil, Monza, Saudi Arabia and Silverstone, with every incident being found as Verstappen’s fault other than the one at Silverstone, where the Dutchman was sent flying into the wall and later to hospital after contact from Hamilton, who was given a 10-second penalty.

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The 2021 season left Verstappen with the negative reputation of a dirty and disrespectful driver, but Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey has suggested that the 25-year-old is much easier to work with than his reputation would suggest.

“Probably what he did in Brazil last year was a bit naughty. Saudi was silly but I think he got frustrated with Lewis not overtaking him but he still shouldn’t have brake-testing him,” said Newey, speaking about the incidents that Verstappen was penalised for in 2021.

“But Silverstone to me was a clear professional foul [by Hamilton] and people seem to have a short memory. They brand an individual and it takes time for that to go.

“He’s very easy to work with, very open. You ask him to do things and he’ll always try.”

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Verstappen’s reputation has not been helped in the latter states of the 2022 season, as the Dutchman explosively refused to follow team orders in Brazil, claiming that the team know his reasons for doing so.

This incident was described as Verstappen telling the team who is in charge, making the 25-year-old appear selfish and self-centred, however team principal Christian Horner has claimed that Verstappen and his teammate Sergio Perez have sat down to discuss the incident since, with any issues between the pair irradicated. 

Verstappen will be on the hunt for his third consecutive title in 2023, but will have to content with a more competitive Mercedes and Ferrari as teams adjust to the new regulations.