Max Verstappen's race engineer, Gianpiero Lambiase, has explained why he views the driver's qualities as being a "great gift" to work with.
Lambiase – known to many as GP – has worked with Verstappen since the Dutchman started racing for Red Bull in 2016, and the two share a strong working relationship, with Verstappen recently admitting that he couldn't see himself in F1 without Lambiase.
The feeling is mutual for the engineer, who has revealed that he was impressed by Verstappen from the start.
"Anyone who changes teams has to process a mountain of new information," Lambiase explained in the Red Bulletin Heroes Verstappen Edition magazine.
"[But] it already felt like he had been with us for weeks. He absorbed everything, almost beat his teammate in qualifying and eventually won the race."
Lambiase praises Verstappen's honesty
Verstappen is known for his direct way of communicating, and Lambiase admits that this is a positive thing for how they work together.
"The relationship between a driver and a race engineer is based on mutual trust. The more direct a driver is, the more he trusts the team," Lambiase said.
"My experience is that if a driver stops giving his honest opinion about the car and starts circling it, the results get worse.
"Max is direct, but so am I. That makes working with him very open, honest and easy."
Verstappen's approach is a "great gift"
In terms of Verstappen's approach to setting up the car, Lambiase credits the World Champion for communicating clearly to the team what he wants.
This, Lambiase says, is a huge asset.
"Some drivers want to get to the bottom of the data, while others don't want to be involved at all. And then there's Max," he continued.
"He explains very precisely where he can push the car to the limit and what exactly he needs to drive faster.
"We always know what to do because of his instructions. A driver who can communicate clearly is a great gift."
Lambiase adds of Verstappen's ability behind the wheel: "He has an incredibly natural feel for racing, coupled with a good analytical mind.
"Some drivers need time to become this fast, but Max was fast right away."
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How Verstappen's commitment to Red Bull plays a role
Verstappen has established himself as a team leader in a relatively short space of time at Red Bull.
On how he has done this, Lambiase suggested: "By just being really good.
"He knows the limits of the car and what he needs to do to make it go even faster. So it makes sense for us engineers to listen to him."
The fact that Verstappen has signed a long-term deal to remain with the team until the end of 2028 also has a positive influence on his relationship with them, according to Lambiase.
"His long-standing commitment to the team also plays a part," he added.
"He wants to be part of Red Bull for the long term; he believes in us and in our work."
Memories of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
One of the biggest moments of Verstappen and Lambiase's time together was inevitably the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
When Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton on the final lap – ultimately taking his first World Championship in the process – Lambiase admits that he struggled to contain his emotions when the race was over.
"The excitement of taking over the lead was quickly overcome by fear of a close loss, especially when Lewis was right behind him on the straights," he recalled.
"I just shouted something [on the team radio]. Usually I'm very shy, but at that moment it all came out. How emotional that was. It was great.
"My wife and daughter have had to learn to live with the fact that I am away so often. And then there is Max's first title, my first title.
"It was and is an insanely emotional moment. I will never forget that feeling."
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