Max Verstappen has always been quick but Daniel Ricciardo feels he now has the “maturity on track” to win the World title.
16 races down and six to go and it is Verstappen who is leading the fight for the World title, the Red Bull driver six points up on Lewis Hamilton.
It has been an engaging season with momentum swinging between the two protagonists, fans and their fellow drivers hooked on the action.
It hasn’t always gone to plan for either driver, Verstappen recording more wins but also more DNFs than Hamilton while two big crashes for the rivals have added to the drama.
But one thing that has stood out for many pundits, and apparently his fellow F1 drivers too, is Verstappen’s maturity through it all.
The Dutchman has taken the ups and downs on the chin, seemingly dealing with the pressure like a driver who is competing for his eighth World title, and not his first.
daniel ricciardo leader of the max verstappen fanclub as always <3 pic.twitter.com/o7phis5DT2
— charlotte (@rarileclerc) October 21, 2021
“He has shown it all year really but also the last few years,” his former team-mate Ricciardo said ahead of the Austin weekend.
“There was that stage in Max’s young career where he had the speed but there was still a few… I don’t know, call it mistakes or a bit of over-anxiousness or eagerness, but you know, he quickly cleared that up.
“I think 2018 was really that year where he kind of learned from that and the second half of his season was really strong.
“You could kind of see that click in maturity on track and the last few seasons for him have been pretty immense.”
He added: “Although Lewis has the experience of winning World titles, I don’t really see that as an advantage now.
“They are both capable, Lewis has proven it, but Max is capable and he has a pretty stable head on his shoulders now.
“He has proven that with some of the drives he has done this year so I am kind of at the point where I am just looking forward to see how it unfolds.
He continued: “Obviously, I am not part of that battle but from a fan point of view, you just want it to go to the end. They have been nip and tuck all year, it has been good to watch.
“I do think Max is capable of it so time will tell.”