Adrian Newey has said the way Max Verstappen can drive with extra “mental reserve” within him is reminiscent of other great champions with whom he has worked in the past.
Verstappen took his third World Championship by a huge margin in 2023, taking more than double the points tally of team-mate and nearest rival Sergio Perez.
His 575 points represented 92.74% of those available to him at the start of the season, with the combination of the Dutchman and the Newey-led design of the Red Bull RB19 proving one of the most dominant in the history of the sport.
Max Verstappen has ‘exceptional’ mental qualities – Adrian Newey
The Drivers’ and Constructors’ crowns won by Verstappen and Red Bull made it Formula 1 titles number 24 and 25 for Newey designs, with this season raising levels even higher to be among the best yet.
With Verstappen being the seventh different driver to win a title in one of his cars and other title winners having worked with him in years gone by, Newey has seen the very best drivers up close and how they operate.
When discussing the subject with BBC Sport, Newey explained that there is a trifecta to taking a title which contains “a great driver, a good car and a good engine – if one of the ingredients is weak, you might snatch the odd win here and there, but you won’t win the championship.”
With Verstappen having completed two record-breaking seasons in a row, with a 15-win year followed up by taking 19 victories in 2023, both of which broke the all-time Formula 1 record for the number of wins in a single season, Newey explained that the “mental reserve” Verstappen and other greats have is what sets them apart.
“I have been fortunate enough to have worked with several great drivers, and while their personalities can be significantly different in how they conduct themselves – their approach to little things like debriefs after each session – the thing they all have in common is the ability to drive the car with a lot of mental reserve left,” he explained.
“They are able to drive the car with enough capacity left over to think about how they are using the tyres, how the race is unfolding, when to push, when to not push, more of course now in particular with these cars, how to adjust the electronics settings to suit the handling of the car as it develops through the race. Max is quite exceptional at that.”