Is there a British agenda against ‘aggressive’ Max Verstappen?
Russian Formula 1 commentator Alexei Popov feels “English experts” have an anti-Max Verstappen agenda.
The Dutchman went head to head with Lewis Hamilton for the 2021 World Championship and prevailed in a titanic battle, clinching the title on the final lap of the final race.
While he has been widely praised for his performances throughout the year, there are some who feel he has been too aggressive in his wheel-to-wheel racing and should have been more harshly punished.
In the eyes of Popov, this is an anti-Verstappen agenda the British have, and he feels Hamilton was just as bad when he was younger and in slower machinery.
“That’s exactly the point of view of the English experts, who have been pushing it very gently in the last few races. And before, it was not pushed very much. They started preloading Max with this story beforehand,” he told championat.com.
“In fact, this is what sport is all about. I pay attention – in our country (Russia) people are fans of the cult of (Ayrton) Senna, which changed Formula 1 in the direction of prohibitive rigidity.
“And we have people who are mostly fans of Michael Schumacher, who has moved F1 towards even more extreme rigidity. Against their backdrop, Max Verstappen is still just learning!
“And I will remember the same Lewis, who is now driving gently because he has had a car advantage for years, but in the moments when he had a weak car…there were a couple of years at McLaren and I remember Hamilton was reproached for excessively hard driving, and he said ‘yes, I would be happy to drive differently if I had a super-fast car, and here it is my only chance’. But the same is true for Max.
“Yes, at times this year Verstappen had the fastest car and won several races in a row. But when the fastest car was with Mercedes, the only chance for Max not to lose was to go into every braking zone to the limit, trying to overtake when he felt he could overtake.”
Felt really good to come home to a factory of World Champions 🟠
Thank you to everyone for the warm welcome today and more importantly for your hard work over the past year 🙏 pic.twitter.com/sex1cJGbJK
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) December 15, 2021
Verstappen used to be renowned for being somewhat impatient and hot-headed in the car, which would often lead to him making costly mistakes on track when fighting for position.
Such mistakes have been few and far between this year and Popov has praised the way in which his attitude has improved. In fact, he feels the Red Bull man has handled some things more maturely than Hamilton.
“You know, I’ve never been a fan of Max as a character, a personality, but this year it seemed to me his character had changed for the better – drastically,” said Popov.
“I don’t know if it’s Kelly (Piquet, his girlfriend) or if it’s just that he’s suddenly grown up and something clicked, but somehow something changed all at once.
“Yeah, it had nothing to do with his driving, but with the way he reacted to things. Max in many ways perceived them more maturely than the 36-year-old seven-time World Champion.
“I’m talking about Max’s reactions – both on the radio and after the finish, and in the press. I sometimes wondered ‘has he switched or something? Who is this man?!’”
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