Max Verstappen says his father and ex-Formula 1 driver Jos Verstappen is his harshest critic in the sport, following a number of recent incidents involving the Red Bull driver.

Verstappen sits a lowly eighth in the drivers’ standings and is 52 points adrift of world championship leader Lewis Hamilton after a tough start to the new season, with the the Dutchman’s start to 2018 overshadowed by a spate of mistakes and incidents. 

In Australia Verstappen finished sixth after spinning early on in the race, before a crash in qualifying in Bahrain was followed up with a further clash with Hamilton during the race, prompting the Mercedes driver’s “dickhead” comment. 

F1’s youngest-ever winner tangled with Sebastian Vettel in China and crashed out of Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix with Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo, after the pair made contact while battling over fourth place. 

When asked about his father’s recent comments about him needing to think more while fighting over position, Verstappen replied: “My dad is the hardest critic of anyone in the whole world. If I can handle him I can handle everyone. It’s good, you know. 

“Nobody is perfect. You can always improve. I am very happy to listen and also improve like everyone else. These situations just make you a better driver at the end of the day.” 

Verstappen added that along with his father he also turns to Red Bull’s Helmut Marko for advice, adding the Austrian “understands” racing. 

“I speak to many people but of course my dad is the main person. I’ve spoken a lot with Helmut as well, because he understands racing very well.

“Of course I have to look at myself. At the end of the day, I could speak to a lot of people, but it has to come from me so I have to understand myself.” 

OPINION: Where is Max Verstappen’s head at?

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