SPIELBERG, Austria -- Max Verstappen was annoyed to see how fast opinion turned against him in 2018.
Verstappen is one of Formula One's most exciting talents and in 2016 became the sport's youngest winner at the Spanish Grand Prix at 18 years old; he added two victories to his tally last year as well. He finished 2017 in strong form but criticism against him built this year after a string of incidents, two of which cost him a shot at victory in China and Monaco.
The Dutchman, who appears to have turned a corner after podiums in Canada and France, is unfazed by what people say about him.
"In every sport there is always hate and people being jealous, so I guess it is that," Verstappen told the Guardian newspaper ahead of Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix.
Asked if he thought he was being singled-out because of jealousy, he replied: "For sure. People always think they know better. In football everybody thinks they can be head coach and do it better. It's the same in F1, they always know better, even if they have no experience of it."
Verstappen thinks the backlash he has received on social media has been unfair.
"In general the spotlight has been on me. But up until this year it was all amazing and great and then you have maybe two or three bad weekends and all of a sudden it's: 'You can't drive any more.'
"It is very unfair and on social media you have all these keyboard warriors who just type something and they never say it to my face. That's very weak I find.
"Most of it has been very unfair. Sometimes people make mistakes and I admit I make mistakes, I have always been clear on that but then they make such a fuss about it and try to over‑complicate the situation to try to find something behind it that is not there. That annoys me."