Max Verstappen says through the highs and lows of his 2016 F1 campaign he never felt as if he needed to respond to any critics and wants to build upon the year in preparation for next season.
The Red Bull driver enjoyed a standout year having won on his debut for the Milton Keynes-based team after being promoted in favour of Daniil Kvyat and went on to collect six additional rostrum results to end the season fifth in the F1 drivers' championship.
Verstappen was never far away from the headlines, having crashed out in Monaco immediately after his maiden F1 win, while he became central to controversial on-track scraps in Belgium and Mexico which has since seen the introduction of 'the Verstappen rule' that bans moving racing lines under braking.
Despite this Verstappen capped a memorable 2016 with a masterful drive in the wet at Interlagos where he drew comparisons to Ayrton Senna, while his last-to-fourth charge in Abu Dhabi shouldn't be overlooked after recovering from a first lap spin.
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Reflecting on his season and the intense scrutiny the 19-year-old came under Verstappen says he is pleased with his performances and shrugs off any criticisms.
“I'm always focusing on myself and trying to do the best possible race and result. That's how it goes, I don't care about other opinions,” Verstappen said. “[2016 was] pretty positive. I didn't expect the season to go like this, that I would be at Red Bull and would have won a race and has such memorable races as well. I can't complain.
“It's very positive and some good moments that I learned from, so that's a good start for next year when hopefully the car and engine will improve again.”
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Looking ahead to 2017 and the incoming regulation changes, Verstappen is relishing the opportunity to continue developing at the sharp end of the grid in only his third season in F1 having stormed on to the scene as the youngest-ever F1 driver in history.
“I think just physically [I can improve] because the cars will be harder on your body, I think that is the first thing to improve at the moment,” he said. “Of course by getting older, for me at the moment, I will get stronger anyway. But it's always important to improve that all the time.”
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