EVERYONE SHOULD FEAR MAX VERSTAPPEN
HE'S BECOMING A FORCE OF NATURE
This may seem like a rather premature article to be writing considering that the young Dutchman has just three wins to his name, and has only been in Formula 1 for just under three years, however it is the unknown quantity of Max's talent and potential that forms the basis of this argument.
Verstappen has found himself in a particularly fortunate position - through his own abilities I might add. At only 20 years old he is driving for one of the top three teams in Formula 1. He could afford to be knocking bits of his car on a regular basis and nobody would criticise him too heavily because he is so young and therefore relatively inexperienced.
But Verstappen isn't doing this. Yes there are definite signs of inexperience on occasions. His clumsy run into Ricciardo in Hungary showed this, but these aren't regular weekend incidents and he also balances this out with mighty speed, brilliant car control and ruthless overtaking.
His overtaking abilities are right up there with Hamilton, Alonso and Ricciardo already and his youth - and maybe naivety - means that he makes the move before thinking about it, as we saw at the start in Mexico. This fearlessness is already earning him a reputation. Not a negative one I must add, more a reputation of someone to be wary of. We can see this wariness in Vettel on two occasions. He has shared the front row with Verstappen twice so far this year and both times Verstappen has made the better start. Verstappen's attitude of 'making the move and then thinking about it after' has led to collisions, but it is almost comparable to Senna in this sense.
Martin Brundle, who had first hand experience of Ayrton in F3, noted that Senna would make a manoeuvre that put the opposing driver in a difficult position. They were going to either have a crash or otherwise they would have to jump out of the way and let the Brazilian through which meant that psychologically they were finished. It was this tactic that made Senna so revered. I can see a similar attitude in Max and people are taking notice.
With his new Red Bull contract recently announced it is clear that the team view him as a valuable asset. Their rivals might rue not being able to secure his services sooner. Of course, Red Bull need to provide him with a good car but if they do he is definitely going to be in contention for a world title, even perhaps as soon as 2018.
What will be key going forward is Max's ability to build a team around him. With his near future sealed and with Ricciardo likely to be out the door at the end of next season, Max has the opportunity to build everything around him, much like a certain M.Schumacher did in the early days of Ferrari and Vettel did during his Red Bull years. If Verstappen can do this then people had better watch out. Much like a fine wine, Max will only improve with age. A frightening prospect for his rivals...