Max Verstappen enjoyed a bittersweet 2017 Formula 1 World Championship season, in the first half he was dogged by bad luck and woeful reliability but the second half was pretty stellar with two victories and a second place in the final six races.
Looking back on this season the young Dutchman acknowledged that it was a trying experience, but believes that the tough times helped him mature.
Speaking before going on a break Verstappen said, “As a person, I certainly grew, due to the challenging moments I faced. In general, it went well and we regrouped ourselves positively. With the issues and dropouts, it was a challenging year, but I learnt from it.”
One of the big talking points of the year was Verstappen’s ballsy overtake on Kimi Raikkonen during the final lap of the United States Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver relentlessly hunted down the Ferrari with the final place of the podium the target. On the last lap he launched an audacious attack through the high speed sweeps in the final sector and kerb hopped past Raikkonen to claim third place.
It was a jaw-dropping move buy the race stewards pointed to slapped him with a five seconds penalty for exceeding track limits to gain the position. He was relegated to fourth and in the heat of the aftermath, he had some choice words for a particular race steward. But that’s history for now…
Verstappen recollected, “Of course, at first your initial reaction is something like: Why? It was a great move. But when you look at the rules, it was not correct.”
But added, “Nothing was by the book that whole weekend. Drivers were getting off track without being penalized for it. But you always need to focus on the positives: it was still a nice race and everyone enjoyed the excitement all the way down to the final lap.”
“It’s always nice to be on the podium, but to finish fourth after having started sixteenth, is still a great result. It wasn’t as painful as most people thought it was. In the end, I made my peace with it.”
“This year I actually didn’t have that many overtakes. With this car you are actually only able to overtake on the straights. Which is really not that satisfying compared to last year.”
It took 15 rounds before Verstappen tasted victory, and a comprehensive one it was as the Dutchman kept Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton at bay, winning by 12 seconds. His victory in Mexico was also comprehensive, outmuscling both Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in a riveting opening lap tussle.
Verstappen admitted, “It felt good, but honestly, it doesn’t matter who I fight with as long as it is for the win. It wasn’t a particularly special feeling.”
Now a well-deserved break to relax and recharge is on the cards, he explained, “Tone everything down for about two to three weeks: catch some Z’s, doing my own thing without too much thinking on racing and other obligations. I’m also off to skiing for a couple of days and spending some time with family and friends.”
Big Question: Did Max ‘grow’ in 2017?