As his meteoric and history-making first season nears its end, the compliments are continuing to rain down on F1 teen sensation Max Verstappen. While Lewis Hamilton complained that passing was impossible at Interlagos last Sunday, 18-year-old Dutchman Verstappen stunned with his moves on Sergio Perez and Felipe Nasr in an otherwise processional Brazilian grand prix. "Max has no real weaknesses. In all areas he is already quite strong. And with more experience he will only become stronger," said his Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost.
Another impressed onlooker in 2015 has been Giedo van der Garde, who came close to becoming another Dutchman in F1 this year. "I would have liked to race with Max," the 30-year-old, who so nearly drove for Sauber, said. "I think definitely early in the season it would have been fun because Sauber was quite competitive," van der Garde told Red Bull's Dutch-language website. "As the season progressed you saw how Sauber didn't improve so I think Max would have had no further trouble from me," he added.
Van der Garde admitted he has been surprised, "just like the rest of the world", by just how good Verstappen has proved to be. Rookie teammate Carlos Sainz has also been impressive, but Verstappen has outscored the Spaniard by a factor of almost three. "When you look at Sainz you see that he is making too many mistakes in these last races, I think because he is under pressure now," van der Garde said. "Unlike Max, who is only getting better. Everything is working for him now and that boosts your confidence, and confidence is so important in formula one," he added.
With a strong involvement in Verstappen's career is his ever-present father Jos, and van der Garde says: "With Jos, Max has the best coach he could wish for. If I have any advice for him, it is to keep on doing what he has been doing. And that's racing damn hard."
Young Verstappen's manager Raymond Vermeulen, who also handled Jos' F1 career, is predicting great things for the teenager's future. "When you see what he is already doing and what huge developments he has made, then there can be nothing other than him becoming a great driver," he said.
"Max is the first Dutchman who will win grands prix -- 100 per cent. For now we have to be realistic. We are in a learning curve, students in a junior team," Vermeulen added. "Red Bull is giving Max the time to learn, but that approach is eventually going to lead to something very good, that for me is a certainty. I think he has everything you need to become world champion." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing