Ross Brawn says Max Verstappen must learn from his mistakes, with F1’s managing director of motorsport insisting the Red Bull driver “showed his age or lack of it” in Mexico.
Verstappen was on cloud nine after setting the fastest lap in qualifying, but the Dutchman’s enthusiasm was tempered by a three-spot grid penalty handed by the stewards for failing to slow after Valtteri Bottas’ crash at the end of Q3.
Verstappen launched his race on Sunday with the bit between his teeth, only to tangle with Lewis Hamilton at the first corner before picking up a puncture after a light contact with Bottas.
The 22-year-old did well however to recover to finish sixth overall, a performance appreciated by F1 fans who voted him as their “driver of the day”.
However, Brawn believes Verstappen still needs to learn from his errors, insisting his young age provides him with plenty of room for improvement.
“Max made a few mistakes that cost him dearly,” Brawn said in his usual post-race debrief.
“Starting on Saturday when he ignored yellow flags following Valtteri Bottas’ Q3 crash, and afterwards blatantly admitting that he had not reduced his speed.
“Then, on Sunday, the red mist came down on the first lap as he tangled with Hamilton in Turn 2 after the start.
“To make matters worse he picked up a puncture following a somewhat ambitious move past Bottas in the stadium section a few laps later. And that was pretty much that.”
“There will be little consolation in his spirited fight back to sixth from P20 that involved a marathon 66-lap stint on hard tyres.
“The Dutchman showed his age or lack of it. He’s still only 22 and so there is plenty of room for improvement,” Brawn added.
“The important thing is to learn from one’s mistakes, which applies even if you’re 50 but perhaps a little more so at 22.
“You have to win the ones you should win and the ones you shouldn’t as demonstrated by Lewis – that is how you become a world champion.”
Indeed, Brawn praised Hamilton and Mercedes for the pair’s Mexican masterclass and the skill and strategy it demonstrated to overcome its opposition.
“In some ways, this race reflected the season as a whole – this year is the first in the hybrid era in which Mercedes’ technical superiority has been challenged,” Brawn said.
“But at the same time the driver and team have found a way of getting the best out of their package, making the most of any unexpected circumstances and the mistakes of others.
“Record beating runs are built like this.”