Mad Max Verstappen, Future F1 Champ or Chump?
At 22 years of age, Mad Max Verstappen is a veteran Formula One driver having entered the sport as a 17-year-old. He has won 7 races and has enough more than enough experience for someone of his age group competing in Formula One. And he competes at the very top. Max Verstappen is arguably the fastest driver on the F1 grid right now and almost certainly a world champion in the making. But he is lacking in one area… poise.
It’s not uncommon for young drivers to get hot-headed and make foolish mistakes. Senna did it, Schumacher did it and so to Lewis Hamilton early in their careers. But they learned from their mistakes pretty quickly and moved on to be the ultimate masters of their sport. For example, Schumacher was far more mature at a similar age, Adelaide 1994 not included.
Well, Adelaide 1994 wasn’t about immaturity it was about sporting conduct and fairness. And Schumacher’s cold/calculating desire to win at any cost. But that is for the history books (or Kindle) to judge.
Let’s rewind the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix. Mad Max Verstappen had pole position signed sealed and delivered. But he threw it all away by ignoring the yellow warning flags. The race stewards didn’t ignore the yellow flags and handed Verstappen a grid penalty.
During the race, he had a first lap, first corner tussle with Lewis Hamilton, but he made a hatchet job of the overtake which dropped him down the order. He then tried to fight his way past Valterri Bottas which ended with a trip back to the pits on three wheels.
Mad Max Verstappen’s race was very much like how I approach playing the PS4 video game F1 2019. Try to make up as many places at the start with full indestructible mode on. Verstappen managed to calm down and ended the Mexican Grand Prix 6th overall.
But it could and should have been better because Verstappen had the car and the speed to easily win the race. He simply showed a lack of poise. Is there also a lack of maturity? Maybe, possibly 50-50. Ross Brawn was quick to analyze Verstappen’s Mexican Grand Prix.
In his post-race Mexican Grand Prix column for F1.com Brawn wrote:
“Max made a few mistakes that cost him dearly, starting on Saturday when he ignored yellow flags following Valtteri Bottas’ Q3 crash, and afterwards blatantly admitting that he had not reduced his speed”.
“Then, on Sunday, the red mist came down on the first lap as he tangled with Hamilton in Turn 2 after the start”.
“To make matters worse he picked up a puncture following a somewhat ambitious move past Bottas in the stadium section a few laps later. And that was pretty much that”.
“There will be little consolation in his spirited fightback to sixth from P20 that involved a marathon 66-lap stint on hard tyres”.
“The Dutchman showed his age or lack of it. He’s still only 22 and so there is plenty of room for improvement”.
“The important thing is to learn from one’s mistakes, which applies even if you’re 50 but perhaps a little more so at 22.”