Red Bull Racing need to control Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen is undoubtedly one of the biggest racing talents of our generation and has been garnering admiration for his brilliant race craft the last couple of years. But as much as he is a star of the future, he is a danger to the present.
As a young racer, the reputational foundation you lay in your Formula 1 career can either aid or haunt you in future. At the rate Verstappen is going, he is doing his future in the sport more harm than good.
A dangerous game
For much of the 2017 F1 season, Verstappen was the driver with the least amount of racing laps completed. He had been involved in one too many incidents, which not only cost him and Red Bull championship points, but also the drivers he’d be entangled with.
In 2018, he continued his trend of exchanging paint with rivals and in China, touching wheels with 2017 F1 champion Lewis Hamilton as well as four-time champion Sebastian Vettel. After that race, Verstappen made it clear that he would not be changing his driving style.
And during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku, Verstappen took out his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo. The verdict is still out there as to who is to blame for the accident - Verstappen or Ricciardo - but Verstappen’s erratic driving style was just asking for drama to unfold throughout the race.
Commentators during the race have been questioning Verstappen’s driving style and mentioned that Red Bull should intervene before things go awry. When they did, both drivers were summoned to the race stewards and the incident was deemed a racing incident.
Was it? Well, obviously not!
Verstappen has been playing a dangerous game the last 18 months and it’s as if he knows the eyes of the world are on him. Teams like Ferrari and Mercedes are eyeing him for a potential seat in future, but the way he’s driving now could potentially alienate any team from acquiring his services. No matter how good a driver he is, the cost of maintaining a dangerous driver is an expensive exercise.
Your call, Red Bull
In 2016, after only the fourth race of the season, Red Bull demoted Daniil Kvyat back to Toro Rosso because he was involved in too many incidents during those early stages of the season. Their reason was that Kvyat needed to get his confidence back and work his way back to the top team.
Kvyat’s replacement? An 18-year-old Verstappen. Sure, Verstappen has won a couple of races since then and has been fighting wheel to wheel with great racers like Vettel, Hamilton, and Kimi Raikkonen, but what makes his involvement in incidents different than Kvyat’s?
Is it because Verstappen is a race winner? Is it because Red Bull invested large sums of money in him? If Verstappen, like Kvyat, is a part of the greater Red Bull team that also includes Toro Rosso, why not send him back for a few races in order for him to sharpen his driving skill at a team that is not competing for outright race wins?
Red Bull did say that they will impose team orders if their drivers come together again, but Verstappen is the one in need of a big reprimand on how to share a track with other drivers fairly.
Especially his teammate.