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Horner impressed by Verstappen’s handling of luckless run

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Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner is impressed by how Max Verstappen has dealt with a luckless first half of the 2017 season, tipping the Dutchman to bounce back after the summer break.

Verstappen has picked up just one podium finish through the first 11 rounds of the year, enduring a run of five retirements in seven races from Bahrain to Austria that has left him 50 points behind teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the drivers’ championship.

Verstappen’s retirements have been down to a mix of on-track incidents and mechanical issues, but Horner is impressed by the youngster’s approach through the first real difficult point of his career.

“He’s been unbelievably lucky until this point, because he has been driving at such a high level,” Horner said.

“To be taken out in Barcelona, through no fault of his own, to have had successive engine failures in Montreal and Baku, where he was in a position to certainly finish on the podium if not win the grand prix was immensely frustrating.

“But he has dealt with it incredibly well and I’m certain that after the summer break he is going to have a strong second half of the year.”

Red Bull has worked hard to cut the gap to pace-setters Mercedes and Ferrari through the opening half of the season, and Horner says the team will not relent in its bid to get on level terms until the end of the season.

“I think the team is working very well collectively. We’re getting performance on the car, we’ve got some venues coming up that hopefully will suit us and we’ll keep pushing all the way to the final race in Abu Dhabi,” Horner said.

“There is a big gap between us and the cars ahead but there are opportunities in the remaining races and we’re going to be going all out to try and achieve what we can, and obviously the lessons you learn apply to next year anyway.”

Robert Wickens shares more positive strides toward recovery in new video

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Robert Wickens has made massive steps since sustaining a spinal cord injury in an Aug. 19, 2018 crash at Pocono Raceway.

Since the accident, Wickens publicly has shared his recovery, often uploading videos of his physical rehabilitation on Twitter.

In his most recent update on Wednesday, Wickens shared a video of him walking on a treadmill. Fellow NTT IndyCar Series competitor Tony Kannan, who competes in triathlons during his spare time, also was visible running on the treadmill behind Wickens.

“When I am @TonyKannan [sic] age, I hope to run as fast as him…” Wickens tweeted. “Today was a good day!”

Wickens, who will turn 31 on March 13, first made his return to the IndyCar paddock in last year’s season opener in St. Petersburg. Since then, he’s made a return to the driver’s seat, piloting a specialized Acura NSX prior to the start of last year’s IndyCar race in his hometown of Toronto.

In September, Wickens fulfilled a vow to his wife Karli, by standing with her during their wedding. The new husband and wife also danced together during their reception.

Should Wickens fully recover to resume racing, Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt has stated that the team’s No. 6 entry will be available for him to drive. Wickens continues to remain as a “driver coach and consultant” for the team.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter