Verstappen sent Ten Hag message as Man Utd boss makes F1 title claim

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix: Andy Dunn's preview

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Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag has backed Formula 1 star Max Verstappen to claim his third world championship title this season with Red Bull. Ahead of the 2023 season curtain raiser at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, Ten Hag sent a good luck message to his compatriot and said he was confident that Verstappen would “bring the title back to the Netherlands”.

Ten Hag, who won three titles in his five seasons with Ajax before taking charge at Old Trafford, knows a thing or two about winning after claiming his first trophy at the club since taking charge – and their first silverware in six years.

The 53-year-old believes that Verstappen has demonstrated he is a natural “winner” with his dominant title success last season, claiming his second world title with four races to spare. And when asked if he had any tips to pass onto the flying Dutchman, he admitted he had no advice for Verstappen after proving he is worthy of his star status in F1.

“Those tips? I don’t have [any] because he showed such massive performances,” Ten Hag told Sky Sports News.

“He’s a good driver but also such a great personality and such a winner. He goes to win there [Bahrain] and I’m sure this year he will do the same because he’s young but already so experienced as well.

“We’re really proud of him in the Netherlands and I wish him good luck for the season, and to bring again the world title back to the Netherlands.”

Verstappen is aiming to become only the 11th driver in the sport’s history to win Drivers’ World Championship titles and only the fifth to win three in a row behind Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.

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And he has warned his title rivals such as Hamilton, Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez that he is aiming to improve on his stellar 2022 performance, which saw him win 15 out of the 22 races.

“My goal is growing and learning. My aim is just to be better again,” he said. “We’re very optimistic again for this year and we’re going to try to defend that title. The first feelings have been really good.

“Last year was a very good test. I constantly try to improve myself because no one is perfect. You’re always improving and learning from life experiences but on track there’s always things you can do better. I’m always asking myself where I can do better and I’ll do that again this season.”

Verstappen will be hoping to get off to the best start possible in Bahrain on Sunday, a track where he is yet to taste success, as Red Bull gear up for the 2023 season as heavy favourites to land both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles.

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