Max Verstappen was fast-tracked into Formula 1 at a very young age as a prodigious talent and although his graph has been upward, for the most part, this year his rate of progress has taken a dip as he has been involved in incidents during all six race weekends – like at the Monaco Grand Prix – some of which have compromised the Dutchman’s title challenge and wound up his critics.
As his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo proved, Monte-Carlo was theirs for the taking and the big smiling Aussie did just that winning from pole position. His teammate toiled from the back of the grid, after pranging his potential race winning mount in FP3 which compromised the rest of his weekend, and the opportunity of a big result went begging.
Red Bull team chief Christian Horner suggests that their younger driver has to sort himself out and would do himself no harm to follow the example of Ricciardo. whose calm and mature approach is delivering the results including two victories in the first six races.
Horner reflected on a bittersweet race weekend for his team, “Max has an abundance of talent and has had some harsh lessons this year. I think a modified approach will benefit him. He has a very good teacher in the car next door to him.”
Even Verstappen’s staunchest supporter, Red Bull driver consultant Helmut Marko was also not impressed, he told reporters in Monaco that the youngster was too impatient and “had to learn not to drive flat out at all times” to avoid unnecessary and, ultimately, costly incidents.
Horner added, “The only person who can address it and deal with it is Max. This weekend was very painful for him. He’s very aware. We talk weekly. He’ll be in the factory this week.”
“What frustrates him is he’s working harder than ever and it feels like he is just trying a bit too hard at the moment. When you get into a spiral you try harder. He needs to hit the reset button.”
“Max arrived in F1 very quickly and he is doing his learning in a very public arena. Most guys will have gone through this in the lower formulae and he is having to deal with it in a very public arena and I am sure he will emerge on the other side.”
These incidents have all but ruined Verstappen’s championship ambitions while impacting negatively on the constructor’s championship for his team. After six races he has 35 points, half of what Ricciardo has scored so far and the Dutchman is now a whopping 75 points adrift of points leader Lewis Hamilton
The damage that Verstappen’s waywardness is doing to the current campaign has not escaped Horner, who added, “We should be right there with Mercedes and Ferrari. We have given away 65 points or so. We need both drivers performing at their optimum to be able to fight with those two teams.”
Big Question: Any quick fix for Max?