Max Verstappen has played down the significance his smaller entourage had on him during his return to form in Formula 1 at the Canadian Grand Prix. 

The Red Bull driver enjoyed a strong weekend in Montreal, topping every practice session before out-qualifying Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and finishing third in the race. 

Verstappen had a noticeably smaller support network with him across the Canadian Grand Prix weekend - including the absence of his management team and father Jos Verstappen - with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner suggesting his driver had benefitted from a change in approach. 

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The Dutchman’s manager, Raymond Vermeulen, is back in the F1 paddock for this weekend’s returning French Grand Prix. 

“I was [focused] before as well,” Verstappen said when Horner’s suggestions were put to him by reporters during Thursday’s pre-race media sessions. “There were less people around, I could speak to less people. Of course, maybe I have a few minutes extra to talk to my engineers instead of others, but it doesn’t make a difference to me. 

“They were here also when I was winning races, so I don’t think there is something behind it. It was just a weekend alone. I mean I am 20 years old, they don’t need to hold my hand.”

An irritated Verstappen defended his approach when he was questioned about it during the Montreal drivers’ press conference and added he thrived off the added pressure after receiving a barrage of criticism for being involved in a number of incidents during the opening six rounds of 2018.

“It seems like every time they add pressure to you, it is always working for me. Maybe they should do that all the time!,” he said. “It was a good weekend and I enjoyed it a lot in Canada so I will try to do the same this weekend.”

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