Verstappen's attitude his star quality in 2017 - Red Bull
Red Bull boss Christian Horner says the thing that has impressed him most about Max Verstappen this year was the way he coped with difficult moments.
Verstappen endured a run of poor reliability this year that cost him potential podium finishes – and allowed teammate Daniel Ricciardo to finish well clear of him in the points standings.
After an engine failure in the Belgian Grand Prix, Verstappen admitted to starting losing faith in Red Bull and Renault ever being able to get on top of their problems.
But a victory in Malaysia, which helped trigger talks that resulted in him signing a contract extension, lifted spirits and he followed that up with another win in Mexico.
Looking back at the campaign, Horner said that the standout thing for him about Verstappen was how he managed to not let the emotions of the difficult times get him down.
"I think Max has had the benefit of experience and he has just grown in experience of racing in general," said Horner. "It is easy to forget it is only his fourth year of car racing.
"And what has really impressed me this year is the way that he has dealt with some of the difficult moments. There have been quite a few of those, particularly in the summer months.
"But he has kept working hard at it, he has kept the hours up on the simulator every week and his application is first class, and obviously his ability is unquestionable."
Horner says that Verstappen has found a good balance this year between matching his brilliant car control with the right level of aggression.
"I think he has a great feel for the car, a great sensitivity to the limit of the car," added Horner.
"He is a risk taker, but not irresponsible risk - calculated risk. And he has a fighting spirit within him which is exciting to watch."
And when asked if Verstappen had learned to calm down too – after costly clashes with Ricciardo in Hungary and Felipe Massa in Monza – Horner said that he had no complaints about the way the Dutchman performed.
"The moves in Hungary or Monza were the only two mistakes he has made this year," he said. "There is a fine line between hero and villain.
"Overall he has driven well and I think both drivers have done a first class job this year."
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