Max Verstappen’s manager has denied reports the Dutch teenager might be wise to take precautions ahead of the Italian grand prix.
After the first-corner clash at Spa, the on-track battles with Kimi Raikkonen and then Sebastian Vettel’s post-race comments, Verstappen said the Ferrari-clad duo should be “ashamed”.
“I think he shouldn’t tell anyone where he’s staying in Monza,” Bild newspaper quotes Red Bull team boss Christian Horner as saying.
“There could be a lot of unhappy Italian fans,” he added.
And the other top Red Bull official, Dr Helmut Marko, said: “I think Max is a red rag to Ferrari. I hope they calm down.”
But Verstappen’s manager Raymond Vermeulen told the same German newspaper: “We don’t need to hide.
“We also don’t need bodyguards. Max has moved on and we look forward to Monza,” he added.
But Verstappen’s race at Spa last weekend has fired a major controversy, with the F1 paddock split over whether he is reckless or simply good for the sport.
Jan Lammers, a former Dutch F1 driver, thinks Verstappen caused much of the raucous with his angry post-race reaction to the criticism.
“Until now he surprised everyone with his mature attitude, but remember he’s only 18 years old,” he told De Telegraaf newspaper.
“Max is a stone in the formula one pond and these are the ripples,” Lammers added. “Not everyone loves that he upsets the established order.”
Another former F1 driver, Pierluigi Martini, also hailed the youngster’s impact on F1.
“I wish there were more like him,” he told Marca sports newspaper.
“He has managed to cause a stir and that is good for formula one. People are tired of rules and judges and although the other drivers criticise him, he has become an idol for the young.”