Red Bull engineer admits Max Verstappen ‘weak technically’ and not as complete as Sebastian Vettel

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen may have wrapped up his second successive world championship, but he still has one major flaw that he needs to work on, according to the team’s former head of race engineering Guillaume Rocquelin.

Rocquelin served as the race engineer when Sebastian Vettel enjoyed his finest years in the sport, bagging four consecutive titled between 2008 to 2012.

Earlier this year, Rocquelin was shifted to the driver academy, a program that he now heads.

Many have pointed to the breathtaking skill displayed by Verstappen during his two successive world championships, but Rocquelin believes Vettel was “more complete” than the Dutchman.

“I think Sebastian was a more complete driver than Max when he arrived with us,” said Rocquelin.

“At the professional level, technique, mediation…he was trained at the [Michael] Schumacher ‘school’, who was his idol.

Max Verstappen. Credit: planetf1.com

“He asked a lot of questions, took a lot of notes and when he arrived with us he was very thorough. It’s no coincidence he won several titles. He was more prepared technically, mentally.

“I think Max maybe had more natural talent, that’s what he relied on the most. But Sebastian was the most complete.

“Max has always been a boss. He has enormous self-confidence, he knows what he wants and he is very direct.

“But I’ll be honest, Max is weak technically compared to other drivers we’ve worked with. I think he still has a lot of progress to make.

“He is a leader by his attitude, his results. But I think he can improve from a technical point of view and in the way of developing the car.”

For Rocquelin, the most striking aspect when it comes to Verstappen is how much he has developed since his maiden title triumph last year.

As of now, Verstappen has already notched 14 race wins, which is an F1 record that ties him with Vettel and the legendary Michael Schumacher.

However, with two races left, there is the chance of extending this to 16 race wins.

Verstappen is now hungrier for success: Rocquelin

Max Verstappen. Credit: formula1.com

“What struck me most was he has somewhat lost the ‘desperate hunger’ he had last year,” said Rocquelin.

“He has matured, he has gained consistency. Winning the championship has given him a lot of confidence and he drives in a different way.

“We can’t necessarily speak of a single trigger. It is something progressive. There were several stages.

“He started F1 very young with great ambition and perhaps not the maturity that went with it. He also started with Toro Rosso, who perhaps had less stature and experience.

“Then the stages began when he arrived at Red Bull. There was more confidence in the team, a good record, he was closer to his goal. He won a race immediately with us, which allowed him to take a step forward. Gradually, he won more races and developed links with his engineers.”

Rocquelin has alluded to Verstappen’s first race win in the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, which he believes was the actual start of the ‘Verstappen era’ as opposed to now, when he has won a couple of world championships.

“He’s always had talent. To say we are starting an era because he is starting to win titles is not necessarily correct. It started when he won his first race with us.

“Then there is also the quality of the car. We hope to continue to win titles. It’s up to us to make a car that matches its talent.”

Read more: Sebastian Vettel has been ‘kicked out of’ Aston Martin meetings multiple times ahead of F1 swansong

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