Red Bull’s chief technical officer is full of praise for Max Verstappen, saying he has the “steely grit” that all World Champions have as part of their personality.
While Verstappen has lost control at the top of the World Championship standings ahead of the season resuming at the end of August at Spa, there are only eight points separating him and current leader Lewis Hamilton.
And, despite the series of unfortunate events, especially in the last couple of races at Silverstone and Hungary, Newey has seen Verstappen show traits of a World Champion with how he has dealt and reacted to difficult situations.
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“He has that steely grit that any world champion needs, to dig in and keep going in the face of adversity,” Newey said on Red Bull’s ‘Talking Bull’ podcast.
“If things go wrong on a particular weekend, then put that behind you and look forward to the next one.
“I think his driving ability is obviously superb, his ability to live with what we call a neutral car, in other words a car where the rear end moves around a little bit, is exceptional.
“He’s matured into a great racer. He’s really not made any mistakes this year. If you include Hungary, because it’s kind of semi-effectively a DNF, then he’s had three DNFs through no fault of his own.
“But he’s kept his head and he’s bounced back from all of those. His natural speed is very clear.
“He’s also very easy to chat to. He’s got a range of interests, which I think is very important for a Formula 1 driver.
“If your only interest is Formula 1, then that can almost make it too important to you and the pressure comes on, so I think Max has got a very good balance in that sense.”
Newey also singled out Verstappen’s clear and concise way of delivering feedback to the team, having experienced some drivers over the course of his legendary career that have put him to sleep.
“His [Verstappen’s] feedback is very good,” Newey said.
“I’ve seen it all in terms of driver feedback, which is a huge variable. You get some drivers who kind of talk endlessly and start with the first stage of entry into Turn 1, finishing at the last stage of exit of Turn 20.
“Certainly, in my case, I’ve fallen asleep by then and I’ve lost concentration Whereas Max has got a very good balance of concentrating on the key parts that he needs to make the car go faster.”