Max Verstappen says he turned around his 2018 season after learning from his past mistakes and discussing his driving with his father Jos.
In the opening six races, Verstappen made a number of costly mistakes, including hitting Sebastian Vettel while in the chase for victory in China and then crashing in Monaco FP3, forcing him to start from the back in a race won by teammate Daniel Ricciardo. Verstappen — whose impressive form in the second half of this season mirrors last year’s performance — says there were two main factors that led to him bouncing back.
“Basically last year I had a lot of issues, a lot of reliability problems so I couldn’t show [results],” Verstappen said. “There were a lot of times I’d be fighting for podiums and then I would retire. This year I basically, the first six races, I basically f****d up! So afterwards we did a much better job so it’s two different scenarios.
“It’s not really changing my approach to how I’m racing. I’m still the same person. I’m always going for the gap, you could see that in Mexico as well, I was there to win and not be second. But it’s just the way — I just wanted it too much initially.
“I really wanted to try and challenge; even with the package we had it was not possible, but like I said in Mexico sometimes my dad told me when I’m going slow, I’m still going fast enough. I got that approach back after Monaco and it seemed to make me faster than I was before. But without mistakes.
“I was just trying to get too much out of it. Which was not possible at the time.”
Explaining where that change in approach came from this year, Verstappen attributed the key advice to his father, former F1 driver Jos, who has been a major influence on his career to date.
“He’s the only one who really knows me. We spend everything together so I think it’s always good to reflect, and you can always improve which everybody can. That’s what we did.
“Through the years, spending time with my dad I learn how to do it myself but initially it was always through my dad. Now of course in some critical situations — like it was in the beginning of the year — then of course you talk a lot about it. It would be wrong to be really stubborn and try to fix it yourself then you always go back to the person who really knows you.”
However, despite podium finishes in Japan and Austin and winning in Mexico, Verstappen has written off his chances of victory in Brazil this weekend.
“I mean we will always try to do the best we can but I think there are not enough corners to make up the loss we have on the straight which you could also see last year. In a week, normally you can’t improve your car that much, so we don’t have enough power.
“[The end of the lap] is not a normal straight, it’s uphill, and you are always turning at high speeds so it makes it only worse. With the levels of downforce on these cars the corners are even more flat out so that’s the same scenario we should get in Silverstone where few years ago it was really a proper track with proper corners but now it’s pretty much flat out and it gets more painful for us.”