Red Bull chief engineer Paul Monaghan has clarified apparent criticism of Max Verstappen from former race engineer Guillaume Rocquelin.
Verstappen was dominant in defending his F1 title this past term, securing his second championship with four races to spare.
But speaking on 'Les Fous de Volant' podcast, the head of Red Bull's driver academy was quoted as suggesting that Verstappen was "weak technically compared to other drivers we’ve [Red Bull] worked with".
Rocquelin previously served as the race engineer to David Coulthard and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel.
Clarifying the comments, Monaghan said: "If we may just correct some things, it was a poor translation from an interview from a colleague of mine so, it's a little bit misquoted.
"Max is technically extremely gifted. He did a lot of work as a youngster, often guided by his father, and you can see the legacy of that.
"He knows what he's talking about within the car, and he knows what he wants.
"And with his engineers, they know how to deliver a car that he finds nicely-balanced, easy to drive - well, not necessarily easy to drive but drivable - [and he] looks after its tyres well enough that he can manage a situation.
"If you look at his record over the past seasons he's been with us, it's stunning. He wouldn't have achieved that if he wasn't an exceptional driver."
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Verstappen may have showcased his abilities with a record-breaking 15 wins this past season, but Monaghan remains convinced there is more to come from the Dutchman.
"Can he improve? Yes, of course he can," he added.
"He might not thank me for saying that. But I think there are areas he can get a little bit better.
"He'll dig into himself and think what could he do better for a season, and it's up to us to give him a car to go and demonstrate those skills next year."