Max Verstappen has been endorsed this week by former world champions Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel after it was suggested his new world champion title could hamper his career. This week, Vettel said: “What I remember, I think it’s a boost, it takes a lot of weight, in a way, off your shoulders. But it’s a great feeling to start the season as world champion. “You have number one on your car, so it’s a privilege. I think we would all like to be in that position. He can only be one of us, and yes, I didn’t see it as an extra burden. “If anything, it was a boost. So I think he probably feels the same way. But of course, everyone is different.
Alonso added: “I think if anything you will have less pressure because you have already achieved one of your dreams. And from now on it’s more fun.”
During some races last season, Verstappen’s driving style was criticized for being too aggressive.
Lord Peter Hain, Labor MP and deputy chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Formula 1, suggested that while this style naturally invites criticism, he should be admired as a great driver.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “They’re racers, they’re trying to beat each other, so they’re bound to bump into each other from time to time.”
“Verstappen invites criticism, but he is also an incredible driver.
“I’m a fan of Lewis, I’m a friend of Lewis, but I think anyone should look up to Verstappen as a driver.”
Last season, Verstappen was criticized for his exploits at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
He and Hamilton clashed throughout the race before the Briton hit the rear of the slow-moving Red Bull car as he attempted to move to the side, as instructed after an earlier infringement.
Sky Sports pundits gave their verdict on Verstappen’s driving at the time, with some saying the Dutchman went too far.
Martin Brundle said: “I think Verstappen has to think about his driving standards. They were too much today.”
“There’s aggressive, determined, fighting racing and then there’s what we saw tonight, which was too much.”
Johnny Herbert added: “It puts a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.
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“I think it shows what Max is willing to do to try and win this world championship.
“I agree with Lewis, I love Max for what he does on the race track, but he really pushes the limits and sometimes he pushes them too far.
Damon Hill, 1996 world champion, added: “There are some people who drive without compromise, and I think Max is one of those people. But he’s very skilled and very bright, and it’s exciting to watch.”
“I think Lewis, having to deal with it, is very cautious now. He’s not intimidated, but he’s very wary of Max, and probably rightly so.”
“He had to put up with a lot of vigorous defense with Max. It’s not Lewis’ style, but it’s Max’s style and Max is pushing everything to the limit.”
“It’s for the world title, both drivers want it massively and there will always be tears.”
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Despite the criticism, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said last week that he hopes Verstappen will maintain his driving style.
Asked by BBC Sport if he wanted Verstappen to continue driving in the same way, Horner replied: “Absolutely, Max is a forceful driver. He is an aggressive driver.
“And that style of driving is the reason why he was voted the most popular driver in Formula 1. [during a fan survey conducted by F1 in 2021].
“You just know he’s going to give 110 percent.”