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Max Verstappen

Verstappen's engineer labels 'turning point' that led to championship success

Max Verstappen's long-time engineer details the main point in the Dutchman's career that led to his later success on track.

Verstappen Brazil
To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

When Max Verstappen arrived in Formula 1 during the 2015 season, he was heralded as the next big thing for Red Bull having made the unprecedented move from Formula 3.

A debut win for the team in 2016 was followed up with brilliant drives in the rain at Brazil, and wins later in Malaysia and Mexico in 2017.

Although these early moments of success showed what Verstappen was capable of, long-time engineer Gianpiero Lambiase recalled the period in 2018 when the Dutchman went through a "turning point" in his F1 career.

Verstappen had retired from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after a collision with teammate Daniel Ricciardo, while he also crashed out of qualifying for the Monaco GP when it looked like he was on course to challenge for a front row spot.

"Working closely with him, there's been two stages in his development," said Lambiase in an interview chronicling Verstappen's rise to becoming a three-time F1 World Champion.

"The first one was in early 2018, where we had a fairly rough ride in the first six or seven races.

"We couldn't do anything but crash into something or somebody I think that year, there was a turning point where he realised he needed to change or things are going in the wrong direction.

"From the midseason onwards, he was in really competitive against Daniel for the rest of that year."

Lambiase: That ultimately is what won him the championship

Lambiase recalls how Verstappen's focus on his consistency through the 2018 season was a key part in his growth as a driver.

This experience ultimately enabled him to take 19 victories out of 22 races at the wheel of the RB19 this year, putting together one of the most dominant F1 season's of all time.

"The second one was a build up from 2018 and is actually starting to learn that you needed to be at the checkered flag if you actually wanted to start competing for a championship," said Lambiase.

"I think that penny sunk through 2020 when the car wasn't quite as competitive as it was the following year. So he couldn't mount a championship challenge per se, but he was ultra consistent.

"Then in 2021, I think that ultimately is what won him the championship, his level of consistency."

Check out Red Bull's entire look back at eight years of Verstappen below.

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