Wednesday, 19 september 2018, 09:39 , by Matthew Scott
Max Verstappen proved he is a Formula 1 champion in waiting by taking second place at the Singapore Grand Prix, according to F1's motorsport chief Ross Brawn. Verstappen combatted power unit issues all weekend to continue Red Bull's run of podium finishes at Marina Bay.
The Dutchman complained of engine braking problems throughout the weekend, issues that were not fixed for the race, while headbutting his steering wheel to select second gear at his pitstop could have been similarly costly.
However, a combination of the 20-year-old's spectacular qualifying lap – the only one to get near Lewis Hamilton's pole time – and Red Bull's strategy combined to secure a well-earned spot behind the championship leader on the podium – Red Bull's sixth in five years in Singapore.
“The young Dutchman squeezed every last drop of performance out of his Red Bull, first when he unexpectedly put it on the front row on Saturday and then on Sunday with an impeccable drive that showed real maturity,” Brawn said.
Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) September 16, 2018
“He even managed to close on Hamilton when they came up behind traffic, but even then he avoided unnecessary risks, perhaps aware that he didn’t have a real chance of winning.
“It shows that the Dutchman has all the hallmarks of a future champion.
“It's not enough to just produce phenomenal performances in some races if others are marred by silly mistakes, but more and more Verstappen's race are characterised by not just prodigious pace but also composure.”
Hamilton has spoken about his desire to fight properly for the title against Verstappen, and Brawn echoed the Mercedes man's desire for Honda to put Red Bull at full speed in 2019.
“Max is growing in stature and he now needs a car with which he can always fight for victory, not just in certain situations,” he said.
“Even if Red Bull is a relatively young team, it has shown through their past success that they know how to do that.”