Time for Verstappen to show maturity after Shanghai shocker
When Max Verstappen claimed a stunning victory on his Red Bull debut in Spain two years ago, there was no questioning that this 18-year-old upstart was destined for great things in Formula One.
Having cut his teeth at Toro Rosso - like numerous Red Bull stars before him - the Dutchman instantly justified the bold call to promote him at the expense of Daniil Kvyat.
And Verstappen has produced some sensational drives since then.
His masterful comeback to finish third in the rain in Brazil later that season was a standout performance, while he also collected victories in Malaysia and Mexico last year.
Throughout his three seasons in F1, Verstappen has never lost his boisterous style of driving, but his often ambitious approach to overtaking has begun to cost him dear in 2018.
His desperation to win back the place he lost to Kevin Magnussen early in the Australian Grand Prix led to a spin that eventually saw him finish sixth at Albert Park, before a coming together with Lewis Hamilton on the second lap in Bahrain preceded his premature retirement.
That second incident came as Verstappen charged through the field after starting down in 15th thanks to a crash in qualifying, and he arrived in China for Sunday's third race of the campaign still fielding questions about a manoeuvre described by Hamilton as disrespectful.
Far from answering his critics in Shanghai, Verstappen put on a display that raised further questions about his judgement.
Another wheel-to-wheel battle with Hamilton forced Verstappen off the track early on, with Hamilton later saying: "When I watch the replay, I don't really understand what he was up to there."
And, after Red Bull had put him in a strong position to claim victory, Verstappen spotted a gap that was not there, running into the side of championship leader Sebastian Vettel at the hairpin.
One audacious move, two races compromised #ChineseGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/fHI84Ovuvm
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 15, 2018
The incident landed Verstappen with a 10-second penalty to finish fifth and left Vettel down in eighth - the Ferrari man later reminding Verstappen that he is "not young anymore".
Verstappen's reckless driving was exacerbated by stark comparisons to team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who showed tremendous skill in picking off Hamilton, Vettel and Valtteri Bottas on his way to topping the podium.
Red Bull have put their faith firmly in Verstappen by handing him a new contract until 2020, while Ricciardo's future with the team remains unclear.
While elements of Verstappen's gung-ho approach add to the excitement on race day, there is a fine line between that and the costly errors on display in China.
It's time for Verstappen to repay the faith shown in him by Red Bull by showing a more mature side to his racing, before any more points are needlessly squandered.
Congrats to @danielricciardo for his great win. Unfortunately I made a mistake and hit Seb. That compromised both our races. There is nothing I can change now except analyse my performance and come back stronger. Apologies to @redbullracing who did an amazing job. #ChineseGP pic.twitter.com/DF8x2aIgjx
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) April 15, 2018