‘He can look at the bigger picture better now’: Marko on Verstappen

Dr Helmut Marko said Max Verstappen felt a "certain pressure" during his championship battle with Sir Lewis Hamilton, but insisted he can "keep it under control."

Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has revealed his delight at the improvements made by newly crowned F1 world champion Max Verstappen since his first season with the team in 2016.

The Dutchman has won 20 races with Red Bull since he joined partway through the 2016 season from Toro Rosso, replacing Daniil Kvyat who returned to the junior team.

Verstappen claimed his first championship at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and Dr Marko said he has developed in a number of key areas.

Specifically, the Austrian said Verstappen has toned down his aggression and is now able to look at the bigger picture during races.

“He’s a little less aggressive, yes, and can look at the bigger picture better now. That’s an important difference,” Dr Marko said.

He also reckons that Verstappen would have taken the 2021 Hungarian Grand prix first corner incident, which wrecked his car, a lot harder back in 2016.

Max Verstappen with race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase.v1

“I’m sure he wouldn’t have taken his first corner loss [in Hungary 2021] in 2016.”

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Continuing, the 78-year-old praised the way Verstappen has learned to channel frustration on track rather than allow it to play on his mind.

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“In the early years, Max wanted to be the fastest at all times and under all circumstances. He has now learned to dose it and deliver it if it is really necessary. The discrepancy is that he already showed that maturity during his very first race for Red Bull.

“Another important difference is, when we had a problem during free practice a few years ago, Max would explode and yell through the pit box. He sometimes took that impatience with him on the track, for example, if a backmarker did not move quickly enough.

“Now Max is much calmer. He performs consistently and at an exceptionally high level. He is truly an extraordinary driver.”

Equally pleasing for Dr Marko was the way in which Verstappen dealt with the intense pressure of the title fight with Sir Lewis Hamilton throughout 2021.

“The coolness with which he has tackled this year is indeed impressive. Nervous is the wrong word with Max anyway. He does feel a certain pressure, but he can keep it under control.”

He went on to praise the no-nonsense relationship that Verstappen has with his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase.

“At times there is definitely tension but, for that, we have a very good team and his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase also has a very good relationship with him. He also has the authority to sometimes clearly tell Max which way we are going.

“So yes, Max is only human after all, and you definitely notice the tension. But nervousness in the sense that it influences his performance or his approach, no, you can’t see that in him.”

Verstappen became the first-ever Dutch F1 world champion in 2021, and Red Bull’s first since Sebastian Vettel in 2013.

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