MAX VERSTAPPEN enjoys a commanding 116-point lead in the world championship with just six races remaining.
Max Verstappen makes subtle dig at Lewis Hamilton in April
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Max Verstappen has opened up on a private talk with Nyck de Vries ahead of the Dutchman’s F1 debut at the Italian Grand Prix. The Red Bull star revealed he gave his compatriot a “motivational speech” to help cool his nerves.
De Vries starred on his F1 debut as he picked up points for Williams with a P9 finish while team-mate Nicholas Latifi struggled to P15. After the race, Verstappen said: “First of all, enjoy it and don’t think about it too much, don’t stress about it too much.
“I remember my first one… it happens so quickly everything but I think more probably if you just tell yourself we’ll see what happens instead of really stressing out. I need a good start. I need a good first lap. You shouldn’t think about that and I think he handled everything really well of course.
“But yeah, it’s nice. We know each other really well so it was just a quick little motivation speech.” Verstappen congratulated De Vries after the race with the pair spotted embracing in parc ferme.
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Max Verstappen gave advice to Nyck de Vries at the Italian GP (Image: Getty)
Verstappen was seen smiling at his fellow Dutchman, visibly proud of his excellent result. Lewis Hamilton was also spotted hugging the former McLaren development driver after the chequered flag.
De Vries excellent performance has staked his claim on a full-time F1 seat for next season. With five teams yet to announce their driver line-ups, De Vries still has an opportunity to impress.
It is understood De Vries is among several drivers set to take part in a special test with Alpine to help finalise their 2023 team. Williams boss Jost Capito also has high expectations of the young Dutchman and could be tempted into signing him for next year.
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Max Verstappen congratulated Nyck de Vries after the race (Image: F1 TV)
After the race in Monza, Capito said there was “nothing else to do” for De Vries to stake his claim to a seat. However, De Vries admits race performance is often not enough to merit an F1 seat.
He explained: “I think this weekend has been a good performance, but we’re always expected to perform and do a good job and it’s not up to me to decide any driver line-up. This world is very volatile and it’s not only merit [that] counts. It’s out of my control.
“But this, no one can take away from me. Regardless what happens in the future, whether I’m here or not, I can still look back on a proud debut and first moment in F1.”