Now that Max Verstappen has secured his first title, Alain Prost believes the Dutchman will only get better from here.
Verstappen found himself in F1 machinery that could challenge for a World Championship for the first time in 2021, but fighting against seven-time champ Lewis Hamilton for that honour, the pressure does not get much greater.
Throughout the season though Verstappen did not falter under said pressure, securing the title after a last-lap overtake on Hamilton at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The questions were asked of Verstappen and whether he could pull through to become World Champion, but he succeeded.
And so speaking from experience as a four-time World Champion, Prost tips Verstappen to excel from here.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Prost said: “He had a perfect season.
“I remember when he started in F1, very often we would say: ‘He has the speed, he has everything, but he maybe does a little too much and makes mistakes because of that’.
“It is normal when you’re young. Now he’s only getting better, and this year he hasn’t made a lot of mistakes. Maybe the one in qualifying in Jeddah, but he was attacking so much, it can happen. He was ready to reach the top.
“With a world title in your pocket, you drive and think differently. As soon as you win one, the pressure is less. He will know even better when to attack and when to take less risks, and in the end he will be a better driver.”
Ultimately the epic title battle between Hamilton and Verstappen did conclude with controversy, not via either driver, but due to a controversial Safety Car restart on the final lap, where only the lapped runners between Verstappen in P2 and the leader Hamilton were released to unlap themselves.
However, looking at the season as a whole, Prost does believe that 2021 will go down as Formula 1’s greatest season so far.
“I think if you have a general view, yes,” he responded to the suggestion of 2021 being F1’s best season.
“By that I mean the spectacle, the sport, the human aspect, the popularity of F1 and the fact that young people are starting to follow it. So yes, it is definitely the best season in history.”
Ultimately someone did have to lose out at the end of this thrilling campaign, and it was Hamilton in the most heartbreaking of fashions, powerless to stop Verstappen on fresher tyres during that final lap, having controlled much of the race before the Safety Car.
And while it was Verstappen who emerged as champion, Prost could not pick a more worthy champion between the pair this season.
“Both deserved to be World Champion and gave us an incredible show this year,” said Prost.
“At the end of the day it’s good for Formula 1 and it’s good for Max, I’m very happy for him.
“For Lewis it’s a bit sad, for sure, especially as it’s been the best season in Formula 1 thanks to Max. This year you can’t choose between Max and Lewis, you have to judge them both. They are equal.
“You can comment on everything, talk about Silverstone for example, but at the end of the day they both deserved this world title.”
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