Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen says he will not change his driving style just because other drivers say that he has to.
In wake of the Belgian Grand Prix where Verstappen was criticised for dangerous defending against Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, many drivers in the paddock are split on his driving behaviour. While some defend his aggressive style, others, like Raikkonen and team mate Sebastian Vettel, believe the Dutchman went too far.
Despite being the main talking point ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, Verstappen made it quite clear that he wouldn’t be changing his driving style.
“Well you have to see it like this: Let’s say you put [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic instead of attacking you put him as a defender. Would he like it? Just because other people think he’s a better defender, I don’t think he will listen to those guys,” Verstappen said on Thursday.
“He likes to attack; he wants to attack. It’s not because other drivers tell me that I have to change my driving style that I’ll change my driving style.”
Verstappen’s driving has also attracted team principals to make comments, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.
While Wolff was quick to praise the raw talent the teenager possesses, he also expressed concern that one day he may cause an accident due to his unpredictability.
“The FIA has not penalised it [Verstappen’s moves], the only thing that happened is he was given a hard time in some driver briefings, maybe next time he’s going to have an even harder time in the next driver briefing. I just fear that it might end up in the wall heavily one day. As much as we like his [unpredictability] … for me it’s refreshing but it’s dangerous,” Wolff said.
“He’s a young boy that I like a lot. He comes in here, no fear, no respect, puts the elbows out and it reminds me of the great ones. It reminds me of Lewis, it reminds me of Ayrton Senna and you can clearly see that some guys around here are starting to think twice how to overtake him. Until now all that has proven that he’s on the right track.”
Verstappen was also met with praise from three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who was impressed with his progress given his young age.
“He’s a quick, fast driver. He’s learning. He’s young – only 18 years old. Most of us when we were 18 years old were doing some silly shit, I’m pretty sure. This guy has a GP win under his belt and is an exceptional driver. That’s all I see,” Hamilton said.
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