Max Verstappen encountered a difficult beginning to the 2018 season when his teammate Daniel Ricciardo surpassed him in the early races. This caused Verstappen to question his own skills. Nevertheless, following the Monaco Grand Prix, Verstappen opted to change his mindset and begin anew. This choice proved beneficial as his performance notably improved in the subsequent race in Canada.
Verstappen acknowledged experiencing moments of uncertainty and self-reflection throughout his career, but he had never doubted his own abilities until now. He distinctly recalls the instance when he chose to reset after Monaco and release his uncertainties. This courageous choice promptly resulted in a notable enhancement in his performance.
Verstappen faced challenges dealing with media scrutiny and inquiries about his approach to riding. At times, he reacted spontaneously but gradually developed the ability to control his mindset. The competition between Verstappen and Ricciardo reached its climax in 2018, as Ricciardo emerged victorious in China and Monaco. Nevertheless, when Ricciardo departed from Red Bull, Verstappen took charge and secured victories in Austria and Mexico. He concluded the championship in fourth place, with a significant lead over Ricciardo.
Ricciardo’s exit and Verstappen’s development influenced their trajectories. Ricciardo departed due to worries about Renault and Red Bull’s transition to Honda engines. Reflecting on 2018, Verstappen’s strength and drive were evident. Despite encountering challenges from within and outside, he solidified his position as a prominent figure in Formula 1.
Christian Horner, Red Bull’s Team Principal, believes that Ricciardo could return to Red Bull’s driver lineup in 2025, dismissing concerns about his age. Ricciardo’s comeback this season as a reserve driver presented new opportunities for him. He stepped in for Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri and showcased his adaptability and skill. Horner is confident that age won’t hinder Ricciardo’s chances of returning to Red Bull.
Ricciardo previously teamed up with Verstappen at Red Bull before transitioning to Renault. Sergio Perez assumed the position and has been delivering impressive performances since his arrival in 2021. Horner stated that if Perez maintains his exceptional performance, he will remain with the team. However, if not, there are other skilled drivers who are enthusiastic about driving for Red Bull.
Verstappen’s choice to reset his approach following Monaco was a pivotal moment in his career, unleashing his strong drive to compete and solidifying his position as a formidable presence in Formula 1.