Max Verstappen’s former engineer Xevi Pujolar gave his take on his success, saying that it was inevitable he would become world champion.
Pujolar was Verstappen’s race engineer during his time at Toro Rosso. His great performances earned up a call-up to the Red Bull senior team, becoming the youngest driver to race in Formula 1.
The 48-year-old engineer, who is now Alfa Romeo’s head of trackside engineering, was one of the happiest peoples that night at Yas Marina. When Verstappen crossed the line to win the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP, Pujolar was among those who celebrated.
Verstappen’s former engineer gave his take on his success, and said that he always somehow knew the Dutchman was destined for success.
“Sooner or later he would become World Champion, I knew it,” Pujolar told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“If we were only looking at the Abu Dhabi race until the Safety Car came on, Lewis (Hamilton) was dominating without question. But if we look at the season as a whole, Max deserved the title.
“He had a tough time in F1 in the first few years, but he deserved the top spot by showing all his improvements. He is the right winner for the 2021 World Championship because he drove very well, making fewer mistakes – both he as a driver and his team, behaving great also in the strategies. Max has faced bad luck and several penalties.”
“I’m not surprised,” he continued his assessment of the Red Bull driver’s success.
“Even in my time with him, Max had an amazing mental level and it has grown even more in recent years. For me, that’s his strength – the ability to overcome himself, the resilience, the desire not to give up and to fight until the end, to work hard to become number one.
“Because Max only wanted one thing – to prove he was the best. He never gave up, developing a talent he already had as a base.
“Max had that extra something others didn’t have. I have managed very talented drivers, but not with the same ability to motivate themselves or work as he did. I’m sure his dad Jos, and having experienced motorsport as a child, were contributing factors,” he concluded.