By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) – Max Verstappen’s father Jos has advised the Red Bull driver to think more carefully after his recent botched overtaking maneuvers drew criticism and calls to calm down.
The 20-year-old Dutchman was handed a 10-second penalty in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix for colliding with Ferrari’s championship leader Sebastian Vettel, sending both cars spinning.
“That wasn’t possible,” former racer Jos told Dutch cable TV station Ziggo of the rash move. “It was an error of judgment. In some circumstances Max just has to think more.
“I don’t want him to change his driving style. He passed two people at the start. He did that perfectly. That’s what we all want to see.
“But we don’t want to see these kinds of actions. He needs to have it under control. He needs to think.”
Verstappen also lost ground when he tried and failed to pass Mercedes’ world champion Lewis Hamilton, with whom he had tangled in Bahrain a week earlier.
The Dutchman had to retire from the race after that incident.
Verstappen might have won in China had he been less impatient, with victory going instead to Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo who pulled it off with a series of thrilling overtakes.
“He messed up, took out the world championship leader and his team mate won it in an incredible way,” commented 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg on Sky Sports television.
“This is going to be a tough lesson and maybe it’s those kind of days which are going to make a young driver like Max make that necessary progress.
“But he’s an incredible driver,” the German added. “He just needs to fine-tune and take a little bit of aggression out. It’s just too much.”
Niki Lauda, the retired triple world champion who is now non-executive chairman of Hamilton’s Mercedes team, said Verstappen had to change his approach.
When you compete in more races you should get more clever, especially when you want to win or challenge for the championship,” the Austrian said. “But he is going the other way. He needs to sort himself out. Nobody can help him.”
Verstappen held his hands up on Sunday and accepted blame, seeking out Vettel to apologize.
Team boss Christian Horner said the winner of three races, now in his fourth season, had made mistakes but that was only to be expected.
“I remember when we had Sebastian at a similar stage of his career, it wasn’t uncommon that he also made some mistakes,” the Briton said.
“I’m fully confident that he’s a phenomenal talent and he’s smart enough to recognize areas that he needs to work on. I have no doubt that he will address it.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)