June 8, 2023

For so long Max Verstappen had been cast aside as a villain, a wonderkid who dominated the headlines for all the wrong reasons at just 19 years old.

The same aggressive driving style that took Verstappen all the way to the championship this year was dividing opinion on the track back in 2016.

It all came to a head at the Belgium Grand Prix after a first corner collision with Kimi Raikkonen.
“Come on, this is f***ing ridiculous now,” Raikkonen complained over the radio.

“He’s just f***ing turning when I’m at full speed.”
Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve accused the FIA of trying to “protect” Verstappen.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff had his say too, calling Verstappen’s approach “refreshing” but at the same time “dangerous”.

A similar debate raged in the lead-up to this week’s Formula 1 season finale, with suggestions Max Verstappen was now pushing those same “dangerous” boundaries well beyond their limit.

But in a week filled with chaos and controversy, there was a fleeting moment of clarity.

One that cut through all the outside noise to make sense of one of the sport’s most divisive talents.

It came from Red Bull boss Christian Horner, who refuted suggestions Verstappen needed to change his driving style ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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