Max Verstappen issued challenge by colleague ahead of new F1 season

Chris Evans says Max Verstappen needs to ‘be a bit nicer’

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Red Bull’s chief engineer Paul Monaghan has issued a challenge to Max Verstappen to improve his performances.

The Dutchman has been the standout driver over the past two F1 seasons, and has two world titles to show for it. In 2021 he raced for the victory all the way through to the final lap of the championship, trading blows with Lewis Hamilton before winning a controversial final race in Abu Dhabi.

But last season, Verstappen hit the front at round six and never looked back as closest rivals Ferrari found numerous ways to scupper their own title hopes.

Verstappen hardly put a foot wrong in 2022 as he coasted to victory. But as he aims for a third successive title this season, Monaghan, who has worked at Red Bull since the end of 2005, warned rivals to expect an even better Verstappen this time around.

“Can he improve? Yes, of course he can,” said the team’s chief engineer. “If you look at how he did for us last season, it’s phenomenal. He wouldn’t achieve all of this if he wasn’t an exceptional driver.

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“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.”

Meanwhile, former F1 star Vitaly Petrov has questioned the credentials of Verstappen’s titles, claiming sporting titles won while Russian competitors are banned are “not valid”. In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, the FIA removed the Russian Grand Prix from the calendar and banned drivers from the country from competing.

“Without Russia, I don’t consider a single champion or Olympic title to be valid,” Petrov told Russian media. “We have to stop being afraid of our people and bring Russia back into world sport.

“For me, it’s not acceptable. I don’t understand at all this absurdity of imposing certain opinions on people. We can use the current situation as an impetus for the development of motorsport, training young people to guide them further into the future.”

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