Former three-time Formula One World Champion Niki Lauda is the latest big name to hail the potential of young Dutch driver, Max Verstappen.
Indeed the young Dutchman isn’t short of admirers. Former Benetton and Renault team chief, Flavio Briatore was among the first to insist Verstappen has what it takes to challenge current champion Lewis Hamilton next season.
Max, who is the son of former Formula One driver Jos Verstappen, has been exciting Formula One fans since his first race which came when he was still a teenager in Melbourne, Australia in 2015. Famously, Max got his racing licence a year before Formula one agreed to raise its age limit for racing licences to 18.
This allowed Verstappen to suit up for the inaugural race of the 2015 season for the Scuderia Torro Rosso team, making him the youngest driver to ever appear on a Formula One race at the tender age of 17 years, 166 days – breaking the previous record by nearly two years.
He later went on to claim the Rookie of the Year award from the FIA for his stellar 2015 debut season.
In 2016, the young Verstappen claimed his first Formula One win at the Spanish Grand Prix. Max has also endeared himself to Formula One fans all over the world for his aggressive driving and brave overtaking manoeuvres. However, this same aggressiveness is the most often criticised aspect of his game.
The 20-year old has certainly caught the eye of Formula One legend Lauda who claimed: “In all my many years in motor racing, Max is the most fantastic young driver I've ever seen, no doubt," to Globo Esporte, via The Express.
The non-executive director at Mercedes was quick to admit that there are still flaws in Verstappen’s game but warned that the young driver might become unstoppable once he learns how to control his emotions better.
Lauda added: "Max, at 19, now 20, impresses me. He is aggressive, fast.
"The only thing I would tell him is to keep his feet on the ground.
“He has a tendency to lose control of himself, but if he masters those impulses he can be one of the greatest drivers F1 has ever known."
Several high-profile crashes in his short career to date have led to a few criticisms from his fellow drivers, with Felipe Massa once calling him “dangerous” after a high-speed collision between the Dutchman and Romain Grosjean at the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix.
At the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix, Verstappen was heavily criticised for several aggressive moves throughout the race that were seen as dangerous. After a small collision with the Dutchman, Kimi Raikkonen stated that the young Dutchman was going to cause a "massive accident".
Verstappen though defiant that his moves were legal, was eventually summoned by the FIA and received a warning for his aggressive driving. His aggressive defensive techniques are largely attributed to a subsequent rule change by the FIA about moving under braking.
Red Bull are clearly aware of the talent they have in their hands which is why Verstappen was recently awarded a new contract that ties him with the Red Bull team until 2020.
Coming into the last race of the season, Verstappen has won two races in the 2017 season so far. He will finish sixth in the driver’s championships regardless of the result at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit next weekend.
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