Max Crashstappen: Does he deserve this?
Firstly, let me start with something that we all know, but I don't think has been pointed out enough recently: Max Verstappen is a world class driver. He has produced some stunning drives and overtakes in his short career in Formula One, and some memorable incidents also. He was brought into Formula One when he was only seventeen, and after only a year and bit was promoted to the main Red Bull team from Toro Rosso, as a replacement for Daniil Kvyat. In recent races, he has made costly mistakes which have led to Red Bull Racing telling him that he needs to change his driving style.
Why does he have to change?
I think that the table above explains it all: Max has had too many incidents this season, and has therefore cost Red Bull a hefty number of points in the constructors championship. If he had been as consistent as his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull would be 65 points better off, and at this stage, would mean that they would be in second position in the constructors championship, just seven points away from Mercedes.
Admittedly, some of the incidents have not been entirely his fault, such as the crash in Baku, which the stewards deemed to be equally his and Ricciardo's fault, but many people have differing opinions. However, he has thrown away an almost certain win, and a Red Bull 1-2 in China where he went for a gap that just wasn't an option on Sebastian Vettel when he really didn't need to. He also lost out in Australia, Bahrain and Monaco due to driver errors.
Christan Horner had this to say:
"Max has an abundance of talent but he has had some harsh lessons this year. A modified approach would benefit him."
Has he always been like this?
In a word, yes. What I mean by this is that he has always been one to take a risk, and go for gaps that not many others would even see, nevermind go for. He has set records for the most overtakes in a single Formula One season, and produced some memorable moments. For example, this pass round the outside of Felipe Nasr through Blanchimont in 2015:
Or this stunning move around the outside of Nico Rosberg in the wet:
Moves such as this were the reason that he was promoted to Red Bull so early in his career, and then signed a three year deal with the team at the end of last year. Aside from Ricciardo, he is arguably the best overtaker on the grid, and that is what all teams want in a driver. I think that Red Bull know that he is only young, and this is why he has been let-off from his mistakes in the past few races, as he still has much to learn.
Even with these amazing races, he has made some mistakes in previous seasons. Most notably, he ploughed into the back of Romain Grosjean whilst attempting to pass him in Monaco 2015. Also, with only three laps to go in Australia 2016, he hit his teammate and went on to finish tenth, even though he qualified fifth.
So, should he change?
This is a tricky question to answer, because the recent cock-ups are eliminated as soon as he produces overtakes which impress us all. However, after considering everything, I don't think that he has to change his approach, and I'll explain why.
Firstly, I have to bring up something that many people, including myself, forget: he is only 20 years old. With this young age come a vast lack of experience that other drivers take for granted when racing. For example, even Lewis Hamilton, who many people don't consider old, has been in the sport for eight years more than he has. Hamilton, along with many other drivers on the grid, has also progressed through the junior formulas, such as GP2 (now Formula 2), before they made it to Formula One. Max was elevated to Formula One so quickly that he avoided much of this, and has had to do most of his learning in Formula One, under public scrutiny.
Another reason that I don't think he has to change is based on my previous point, which is that because he is so young, he is changing his approach, race by race, as he gains experience. What I mean by this is that you cannot expect him to completely change the way he races overnight, without the necessary experience to do so. I think that as he gains more experience, he will become more mature and have more of an idea of when to push and when to overtake, and also when not to.
However, there is an argument to be made that Daniil Kvyat was demoted to Toro Rosso for much less than Verstappen has already been forgiven for, and I actually agree with this, sort of. This is because, if you read my previous article, titled 'The Toro-Rosso Driver Debacle' , you will know that I was not a fan of the way that Red Bull treated Kvyat. I also think that Verstappen has made more costly mistakes than Kvyat did, but he also has shown a hell of a lot more potential that Kvyat ever did, and that is the reason Red Bull have kept him.
Next, I also think that people don't consider how much more exciting he is to watch because he is willing to go for moves that others wouldn't consider. For example, I like Valtteri Bottas as a driver, but I don't think that he has ever been called exciting when it comes to overtaking. Max Verstappen was voted as the '2016 Personality of the Year' at the end of season awards for a reason: he makes races exciting. People quickly forget when he performs well, and then dwell on moments when he doesn't. For example, just this past weekend in Monaco, yes he messed up in practice three which meant he had to start at the back. However, without him starting at the back , how boring would the race have been? I mean it wasn't very exciting anyway, but it was a breath of fresh air when the camera switched to Max executing another overtake. How many people on the grid would have finished as high up as he did when starting from the back in Monaco?
So to conclude, I don't think that he needs to change his approach, people just need to give him time to improve his current one.
What do you think?
I would love hear your opinion on this topic, so let me know what you think in the comments below this article. Also, make sure to vote in the poll: