What F1 fans ‘must recognise’ with pantomime villain Max Verstappen

Thomas Maher
Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc

Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc in conversation after qualifying at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Alain Prost has expressed his admiration for Max Verstappen and his willingness to go against the grain of Formula 1.

With Verstappen gunning to match Prost’s tally of four World Championship trophies as he sets out to defend his 2023 title, Prost has come forward to express his admiration for the young Dutch driver.

Verstappen has never been afraid to express his opinions when it comes to decisions being made in Formula 1, a quality Prost is particularly impressed by.

Alain Prost: Max Verstappen isn’t afraid of the political game

With Prost himself no stranger to using his clout in the political arena of being a Formula 1 driver, the French former driver and team boss told Motor Sport Magazine that Verstappen being a little “different” to his rivals has made a fan of him.

“For me, it’s good to see a driver like him,” Prost said.

“I was very pleased to listen to what he also said about not liking the sprint races. At least he says what he thinks and is not afraid of the political game. I like that.

“I like him very much because he’s a little bit different in the way he thinks and speaks.”

Prost also said Verstappen’s single-mindedness on victory, even when not necessary, makes him a particularly formidable contender – and it’s something more fans should acknowledge despite Verstappen becoming the pantomime villain of F1 after two seasons of dominance.

“Even in Las Vegas, he was focused on racing and winning,” he said.

“People can like him or not, but at least you must recognise you are not obliged to have the same approach.”

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What has Max Verstappen said about Sprint races?

Verstappen has been resolute in expressing his dismay about the direction of F1 in recent times, including lashing out at the Sprint format that has taken on a life of its own in recent seasons – as well as the increased number of street circuits being added to the calendar.

“Just a normal race weekend please, thank you,” Verstappen said in Brazil, when asked about how he’d like to see the Sprint format evolve.

“I’m not interested in any change, I don’t like it.”

Earlier in the year, Verstappen had said he isn’t a fan of the format, complaining: “Because we’re heading into seasons where you have at one point 24, 25 races, because that’s where we’re going to head into and if we start adding even more stuff, it’s not worth it for me anyway. I’m not enjoying that.

“And for me, a sprint race is all about surviving. It’s not about racing. For me, when you have a quick car, there’s nothing to risk.

“I prefer to just keep my car alive and make sure that you have a good race car for Sunday, and even if you change the format, I just don’t find it’s the DNA of Formula 1 to do these kinds of sprint races.”

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