HOCKENHEIM, Germany, July 28 (Reuters) - Max Verstappen proved more sure-footed and level-headed than many of his more seasoned rivals on Sunday, leaving them in his wake as he sailed to victory in a chaotic and rain-hit German Grand Prix.
The 21-year-old Dutchman, who had started alongside pole-sitter Hamilton on the front row, dropped down to fourth at the start.
But, crucially, he kept his calm and his Red Bull on track on a day when several drivers, including wet weather specialist and five time world champion Lewis Hamilton, went off and into the barriers.
“Unbelievable,” said his Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.
“To win a race like that, when the conditions are like this it’s a little bit of a lottery anyway, but Max kept his head, he was brilliant out there.”
Sunday was Verstappen’s second win in three races, the other coming at Red Bull’s home track in Austria last month.
Having burst on to the scene as a prodigious 17-year-old, regarded as precociously talented but aggressive and prone to crashing and colliding with rivals, he has sanded off those rough edges.
Gone are the mistakes and accidents that marred the first half of his season last year and he has finished every race this season in the top five.
Horner hailed Verstappen as the best driver on the grid, better even than Hamilton, after his win at Spielberg and on Sunday at least he lived up to that claim.
Hamilton, winner of seven races this year, finished 11th on track before penalties elsewhere lifted him to ninth.
“Well you learn, isn’t it, over the years,” responded Verstappen when complemented by former-racer-turned-commentator Martin Brundle for his poise in a race of ever-changing fortunes.
He also credited former Formula One racer and father Jos for his skill on a damp track.
“I think, (he) was also pretty decent in the wet. He always gave me good tips. And, of course, experience. In life, in Formula One.
“I think if you do over 90 races, you have experienced a lot already and, based on that, of course, you can also make better decisions, I think,” he added, sounding just as mature as he had looked out on track.
Verstappen even cracked a joke about the one hairy moment he suffered, when he spun his Red Bull 360 degrees shortly after the first time he changed to dry tyres.
“Now, after the race, I can say I did that 360 for the crowd. (Editing by Alan Baldwin/Toby Davis)