Alain Prost fears ‘bad sign’ with Max Verstappen: The ‘impatient kid’ is gone

Thomas Maher
Red Bull's Max Verstappen at the Qatar Grand Prix.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen at the Qatar Grand Prix.

With Max Verstappen closing in on Alain Prost’s title tally, the French F1 legend believes the Dutch driver will be unstoppable for years to come.

Verstappen wrapped up his third F1 World Championship at last weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix, having opened up his lead to an unassailable number by finishing second in Saturday’s Sprint race.

Winning three titles has put him level with the likes of Sir Jackie Stewart, his ‘father-in-law’ Nelson Piquet, and the late Ayrton Senna. A fourth title would see Verstappen match Red Bull predecessor Sebastian Vettel, as well as Alain Prost.

Alain Prost: The impatient kid Max Verstappen disappeared in 2021

Writing in his column for L’Equipe, Prost spoke glowingly about the achievements already racked up by Verstappen in his nine seasons in Formula 1.

“Winning a third title is already something great,” he said.

“To win one in a row is even greater. Because only a few great names have managed it.

“But I think that what makes Max Verstappen so great and so strong is his ability to be a great driver that he has been able to develop in order never to stumble and always to want more.

“There is no doubt that he has succeeded in becoming a great driver. But what, in my opinion, makes him even stronger is the way in which he has learned to be one with his car and his team.

“He’s a great whole who strives for perfection every day. When you hear the driver complaining about the bad behaviour of his single-seater during free practice on Friday morning, it’s not the anger of the kid who used to make mistakes and sometimes ended up in the wall because of his impatience.

“No, this Max disappeared at the end of 2021 at the end of his magnificent battle against Lewis Hamilton. I’m not going to talk about the highly controversial Abu Dhabi final, but about the way he and his Red Bull battled throughout the season against Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes.”

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Alain Prost doesn’t see an end to Max Verstappen’s dominance

While Verstappen has hinted that he’s only in F1 for a good time, not a long time, and has teased that he could even call time on his career before the end of his current contract that takes him to the end of 2028 with Red Bull.

But Prost doubts Verstappen is leaving the sport any time soon, and says the stable regulations in 2024 and up to ’26 mean more likely title wins for the Dutch driver.

“Beating the seven-time World Champion gave him confidence and self-assurance. That first title made him stronger,” he said.

“Since then, he has calmed down. Except in his quest for perfection. It’s a bad sign for the competition because I don’t see him leaving any time soon. The next two years without regulatory changes won’t do much to change its current strength. And, from 2026, as he is in symbiosis with his team, they’ll be able to rise to the challenge together and at least fight for the title.”

The big question mark over Verstappen is how he will settle down if and when Red Bull give him a car that is not capable of fighting for the title – can he accept falling back into a position where race wins become sparse or even impossible?

“When I was driving, the hardest thing for me was always to be excluded from the battle for the Championship. I wanted to fight to the end,” Prost reflected on his own experience.

“There’s nothing worse than living through the 1987 or 1991 seasons, when the car didn’t allow you to be among the front runners.

“I think that Verstappen is the same and that he will be able to manage his motivation, not because he wants the seven titles of Schumacher or Hamilton, but because he is capable of winning every weekend and will probably stay that way for a few years.”

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