Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner says Max Verstappen is still growing in experience after the Dutchman crashed his car halfway through first free practice on Friday.
Verstappen lost control of the rear of his RB14 as he entered the left-hand Turn 5, but he overcorrected as he recovered grip and locked his brakes, spinning to the right and sliding side-on into the outside barrier. His car was craned off the circuit after he unsuccessfully attempted to restart it.
“It was a bit more windy, but I don’t know – I lost the rear, spun, of course hit the wall,” Verstappen said. “It was a shame. It was a bit slippery at the start. I couldn’t catch the car and I hit the wall.
“You just have to feel your way into the track because it was very dusty and slippery, as I found out.”
Verstappen lost the first 20 minutes of second practice while his mechanics finished repairs to his car, but he finished the afternoon session with the third-quickest time thanks to a lively and at times ragged qualifying simulation – although his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, topped the session.
“Luckily it didn’t affect us too much in the second practice, so I’m quite happy,” he said.
“This track is a lot about confidence, so if you really feel good in the car, you can get a bit of lap time as well.
“On short runs I’m still fine-tuning a bit what I lost in first practice but in the long runs I think we were very competitive.”
The crash was the latest in a string of high-profile accidents committed by the 20-year-old, who has spun or crashed in each of the three grand prix weekends so far this season.
“I think it is a difficult patch for him, but I am convinced he’ll come through it, having seen it with other drivers,” Horner told Sky Sports F1 after first free practice. “He just needs to have a solid qualifying and race here.
“He has got all the talent that we know about and I think a result under his belt will settle him and then he’ll be up and away.”
Horner suggested that Verstappen’s main problem is keenness for action and that paring back his ambitiousness in the heat of battle would reverse his crash-strewn trend.
“He’s learning with experience that you haven’t got to be a hero on every lap and on every overtake,” he said. “His teammate [Daniel Ricciardo] demonstrated that perfectly in China with how he executed that last part of the race; Max had done the hard work in the early part of the race.
“He’s a smart guy. That will have been very sore, that result, and I’m sure he’s learned a lot from it.”