Nico Rosberg fires warning to Max Verstappen: ‘He needs to be careful’

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen smiling as he pulls off his fireproofs.

Max Verstappen smiles under his balaclava.

Nico Rosberg, the 2016 World Champion, has warned Max Verstappen to guard against complacency as the Red Bull driver’s dominance of the F1 2023 season continues apace.

Verstappen claimed his eighth – and Red Bull’s 13th – successive victory at last month’s Belgian Grand Prix to further strengthen his grip on the World Championship.

The Dutchman leads team-mate Sergio Perez by an astonishing 125 points with 10 rounds remaining of the 2023 season, with Red Bull 256 points ahead of second-placed Mercedes in the Constructors’ standings.

Max Verstappen warned to avoid complacency

His 10th win of the year at Spa means Verstappen has now won 35 of the last 56 races stretching back to the start of his maiden title-winning season in 2021.

Verstappen and Red Bull are operating at full confidence currently, with the Dutchman’s pit stop in the closing laps while leading the Austrian Grand Prix as he targeted the bonus point for fastest lap seen as case study of the trust that exists between driver and team.

Following that race, Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey warned that the team “have to be nervous” in order to stop complacency creeping in, pointing to his experience of the 1999 season with McLaren when Michael Schumacher’s broken leg at Silverstone seemed to open the door for Mika Hakkinen to ease to the title.

After Schumacher’s Ferrari team-mate Eddie Irvine emerged as a surprise threat, however, Hakkinen only just managed to retain his crown by the slender margin of two points.

Rosberg memorably won seven races in a row for Mercedes in 2015/16 to establish a platform for his victory over rival Lewis Hamilton, and has admitted to being mesmerised by the display of dominance by Verstappen and Red Bull.

However, the German says that with such obscene success comes the risk of complacency, which could harm Red Bull’s hopes of completing an unbeaten season.

Appearing on the Sky Sports F1 podcast, he said: “He generally needs to be careful that he doesn’t get complacent. recommends

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“He’s in such an incredible flow where no one can touch him – and that’s usually when there’s a risk of getting complacent, and you lose a bit of motivation. So he just needs to be a bit careful of that.

“But I don’t see that happening because the state of mind that he has is phenomenal and he’s just so focused and so ‘in the zone’ all the time.

“It’s like art. It’s amazing.”

Rosberg’s comments come after 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve described Verstappen as “a war machine, a robot” and hailed his performances in 2023 as “hallucinating” and “unbeatable”.

The Canadian added that no other driver – with the possible exception of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso – completes with such “extraordinary energy” and relentless consistency – with Hamilton’s performances inconsistent even during his dominant spell with Mercedes.

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