Ross Brawn can see a change in Verstappen's mindset
Ross Brawn has one of the best minds in FORMULA 1 and his recent comments on the change in Max Verstappen’s mindset are insightful and intriguing.
Will it make a difference to the championship battle?
“It’s clear that Max Verstappen is approaching this championship in a different way because he finally has a title-winning car. His mindset has changed and he’s got an eye on the whole championship,” Brawn said in his column on formula1.com. He went on to add, “And it had to change because when you’re a title contender, the focus has to be on consolidating when you’re not the fastest and when opportunities such as a mechanical issue for a rival or a Safety Car present themselves, you must be in a position to strike”.
Brawn, of course, is absolutely right. Verstappen has been guilty of making rash decisions in the heat of the moment, especially when he gets his eye on a prize. Sometimes it pays off, and the spectacular Max that we know and love shows up to get great results. However, equally as often the result is sub-optimal and can end up costing Max dearly.
Take last year’s Turkish Grand Prix as a prime example. That race was ultimately won by Lewis Hamilton, sealing his victory in the championship. However it could have been very different, had Max not squandered a great opportunity. The events of the race highlighted perfectly how he can often push too hard and get impatient - attempting an overtake when it’s not in his best interests.
In the early stages of the Turkish GP Max had the fastest car in the Red Bull, but found himself frustrated behind the two Racing Point cars of Stroll and Perez. On lap 18, Max went for an early audacious move to overtake Perez only to end up going for a spin at high speed - damaging his tyres enough to require an additional pit stop, and resulting in him being well down the field and fighting to rescue some points. With a little more presence of mind he would have been able to see the bigger picture. With a little more patience he would have waited for the right moment to make what could have been an easy overtake and he very likely would have finished ahead of Hamilton.
Max Verstappen has to stop finding himself in this sort of scenario: to challenge for the title he must either finish in front of Hamilton or at the very worst, finish closely behind him, and making high risk manoeuvres time after time is not the way to collect enough points to be a contender for the championship.
Hence why Ross Brawn’s comments are so insightful. Brawn has worked closely with some of the best drivers in F1, none more so than the ice-cool Michael Schumacher, the multiple championship winner and ultimate race strategist. Brawn, more than anyone in F1, has an insight into the required mindset of a championship winning driver. The fact he has seen a change in Verstappen already this season, after only three races is very meaningful. Max has clearly understood the difference between an exciting “pedal to the metal” style driver, and a big points scoring title challenger - and Brawn has been quick to pick up on that.
This can only mean one thing, as Brawn nicely summarizes at the end of his column: “We’ve had three races on three different tracks and there has been a proper fight between Max and Lewis, which bodes very well for a fascinating title battle this year”.
We couldn’t agree more with Ross Brawn - let’s hope the title battle continues.