Sunday, 23 december 2018, 06:54 , by Matthew Scott
Max Verstappen says his dismal start to 2018 benefitted him in the long run, helping him to become "stronger" in a superb second half of the campaign. Verstappen ended the year widely regarded as Formula 1's second-best performer behind world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Only Hamilton outscored Verstappen in the latter stages of the year, which saw the Red Bull man take to the podium in six of the final seven races of 2018.
Any faint title hopes for the Dutchman were effectively extinguished after the year's first six races – which saw Verstappen either make contact with another driver or the barriers each time.
Things came to a head in Monaco, where a crash in FP3 put him out of the fight for honours – won from pole by his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
That error drew the ire of Red Bull chief Dr Helmut Marko, but Verstappen says he was able to turn the negative into motivation for the rest of the year.
"The first six races weren't exactly positive, but I learned a lot," Verstappen said. "It definitely helped in the later races.
"All my life I worked together with my dad, and he is very tough too. Ultimately, that's a good thing. It brought me to F1, of course with the support of Red Bull and Helmut.
"But you have to stay critical and that was necessary after those weekends in China and Monaco. We talked about it. These things can't happen but sometimes you need to go through it to become stronger."
Pressure is on Verstappen to deliver in 2019, with Red Bull predicting big thigns from their new partnership with Honda.
He added: "It's difficult to say as we don't know what the others are doing.
"From our end, things are positive and everybody is really motivated. That's important and wonderful to see."