Formula 1's sporting director Ross Brawn admits he's been left impressed by Max Verstappen's recent performances, stating that the Dutchman put in an "impeccable" performance last time out in Singapore.
Verstappen qualified on the front row for the race, getting the better of both Ferraris, a Mercedes and his teammate. After losing P2 to Sebastian Vettel at the start of the race, the 20-year-old regained the spot during the pit stop phase of the race, which he held until the chequered flag.
Verstappen didn't have an easy start to the season, getting himself involved in a number of on-track incidents with his rivals. But Brawn says the four-time Grand Prix winner has matured greatly and is now showing his potential as a future champion.
“The young Dutchman squeezed every last drop of performance out of his Red Bull, first when he unexpectedly put it on the front row on Saturday and then on Sunday with an impeccable drive that showed real maturity,” Brawn said.
"He even managed to close on Hamilton when they came up behind traffic, but even then he avoided unnecessary risks, perhaps aware that he didn’t have a real chance of winning. It shows that the Dutchman has all the hallmarks of a future champion.
“It's not enough to just produce phenomenal performances in some races if others are marred by silly mistakes, but more and more of Verstappen's races are characterised by not just prodigious pace but also composure.”
Red Bull has not produced a title contending car since the 2013 season, and Brawn has called on the energy drink squad to make the improvements to allow Verstappen to challenge.
“Max is growing in stature and he now needs a car with which he can always fight for victory, not just in certain situations,” he said. “Even if Red Bull is a relatively young team, it has shown through their past success that they know how to do that.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing