Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has lauded 21-year-old Max Verstappen as the countdown to the 2019 Formula 1® season opener in Melbourne continues.
Verstappen impressed in Friday’s free practice sessions, finishing fourth quickest in the first.
He improved on that later in the day, too, producing the third best time in a performance that suggests he is every chance to claim at least a podium finish in Australia.
The 21-year-old has won five Formula 1® events in his 81-race career and added a further 17 podium finishes and Horner believes that with another year of experience under his belt, the Belgium-born driver is well-placed to achieve success in 2019.
“Max has achieved a huge amount in a very short space of time,” Horner told reporters on Friday.
“He’s got that benefit of those three seasons of experience now and I think he’ll put that to effect this year. He’s already got that databank of knowledge.
“And last year, what impressed me was how he dealt with the difficult days as well as the good days.
“I think that’s all part of developing your character, developing your experience and knowledge – and I think it stands him in great stead.”
Horner also believes that a rigorous off-season training program has Verstappen in a good place approaching the 2019 season.
“I think there’s no further obstacles to him in terms of experience,” he added.
“He’s gone through that now and I think he’s in great shape.
“He’s trained hard over the winter and looks sharp for the season ahead.”
Verstappen will aim to improve on his Friday times when attention turns to qualifying on Saturday, ahead of Sunday’s season opener.
Limited tickets are still available for the Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019. The event runs from 14-17 March at Melbourne’s iconic Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit.