Red Bull chief engineer Paul Monaghan has jumped to the defence of David Coulthard and Sebastian Vettel’s former race engineer Guillaume Rocquelin, who is quoted as having said something rather controversial on a podcast.
Rocquelin, who is now the head of Red Bull’s driver academy, is quoted as having said that double World Champion Max Verstappen is “weak technically compared to other drivers we’ve [Red Bull] worked with”, on the podcast ‘Les Fous de Volant’.
Monaghan has since explained that what is quoted as having been said isn’t true, with Rocquelin’s comments having been “misquoted” by the media.
Monaghan added that Verstappen isn’t “weak” and is instead “technically extremely gifted”, something that can be backed by his “stunning” record with the Austrians.
“If we may just correct some things, it was a poor translation from an interview from a colleague of mine so, it’s a little bit misquoted,” stated Monaghan, defending Rocquelin.
“Max is technically extremely gifted. He did a lot of work as a youngster, often guided by his father, and you can see the legacy of that.
“He knows what he’s talking about within the car, and he knows what he wants.
“And with his engineers, they know how to deliver a car that he finds nicely-balanced, easy to drive – well, not necessarily easy to drive but drivable – [and he] looks after its tyres well enough that he can manage a situation.
“If you look at his record over the past seasons he’s been with us, it’s stunning. He wouldn’t have achieved that if he wasn’t an exceptional driver.”
2022 was a particularly remarkable season for the 25-year-old, as he defended his 2021 Drivers’ Championship with relative ease.
As well as that, he broke the record for most wins and most points achieved in a single season, two records that he is likely to hold for a very long time.
It seems likely that Verstappen is the only person who’ll be able to beat his record of 15 wins and 454 points in a season, with Monaghan warning that the imperious Dutchman “can” improve.
“Can he improve? Yes, of course he can,” he added.
“He might not thank me for saying that. But I think there are areas he can get a little bit better.
“He’ll dig into himself and think what could he do better for a season, and it’s up to us to give him a car to go and demonstrate those skills next year.”