Journalist blasts ‘bully’ Max Verstappen

Despite being just 25 years old, Max Verstappen is currently in his ninth season in Formula 1.

Reigning World Champion Max Verstappen has been accused of having been a “bully” when he first entered the Formula 1 paddock by journalist Leo Turrini; however, he admits that the driver has “matured over the years”.

Verstappen stormed onto the F1 stage at Toro Rosso back in 2015 when he was just 17 years old, with the 25-year-old having completely skipped Formula 2.

He was promoted to Red Bull’s sister side straight from Formula 3, a risk which has certainly worked in the Milton Keynes-based team’s favour.

Verstappen went on to move to Red Bull at the fifth round of the 2016 season, after the Austrians decided to demote Daniil Kvyat following a series of incidents.

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On his Red Bull debut at the Spanish Grand Prix, the Dutchman famously claimed his first F1 victory, with him having capitalised on Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg taking each other out.

The two-time World Champion has grown in stature and maturity every season since, with him having learnt from a few incidents over the years.

He was labelled as dangerous by some of his competitors for constantly moving under braking, something which was banned as a result by the FIA.

Since the ban, the governing body has allowed drivers to move once under braking.

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Verstappen was also forced to do two days public service following a physical altercation with Esteban Ocon, where the Red Bull driver saw red.

Very little of that is seen from the star driver nowadays, with him having become one of the greatest drivers of all-time.

He’s in a complete league of his currently and has won 10 of the 12 completed races in 2023, putting him on the cusp of a third consecutive title.

Turrini recognises that Verstappen has become an “absolute phenomenon” but that he’s changed considerably since first stepping foot into the paddock.

“Verstappen has matured over the years. He’s always had incredible talent, but he was a bully to begin with. Now, he’s almost perfect,” Turrini said on his blog.

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“Verstappen is an absolute phenomenon. To deny it is foolish.

“Everyone can have the ideas he wants about the character, but if one argues Max as a driver, well, he’s an expert.

“Verstappen is definitely stronger than [Sergio] Perez – as well as almost all of his competitors in the present.”