Verstappen’s toxic statements

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There is no denying that the current relationship between Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing is dominating current Formula One news.

Recent reports seem to suggest this relationship is crumbling, from Verstappen’s point of view. Max’ comments made on various media outlets, and especially on Dutch TV, only fuel this argument.

So far, this season has had too few downsides to vent my poisonous opinion(s) and, after a bad night of sleep, it seems I found something to dig my teeth into. All of you have to agree it has been a fairly long time since I had a real ‘bruznic’s opinion piece‘. But before you start to feel your rage build up, read it all very carefully and try not to see it too much through your “orange tinted glasses”. And don’t worry, I’ll try not to offend too many people in the process.

I felt the need to start this article because of the recent comments made by both Jos and Max. However, I do feel it is more Jos than Max. It wasn’t until Jos started to make his statements that Max’ went down the same road.

And perhaps herein lies Max’ biggest problem. I know Jos wants to protect his name, his son, his investment. But to alienate the team that gave his boy the chance might not be the best thing to do. Let’s not forget that this is Formula one, a cutthroat business, in which each and every participant has one common goal: to win. And in order to win sometimes there are taken harsh decisions. Something Jos should know like no other. First of all because if it wasn’t for the promise Max shows nobody, apart from some ‘elderly’ Dutch guys, would ever talk about Jos again.

Second of all, you all know how it went down in his career. In the same fashion as Max he took the F1 scene in a fast and stormy manner. From a lower class he came in to F1 with massive interest in his name. One test for the big boys and nearly everyone wanted to sign him. But let’s not forget how fast it went down-hill for Jos. After the one year at Benetton, which wasn’t even a full season, he never came close again to driving at the top. He went from potential world champion to field-filler from late ’93 to mid ’94.

Does Jos really want to force his son Max down the same road?

So let us begin at the beginning. Yes, it is true, Max has had his fair share of bad luck this season. After the Belgian Grand Prix his retirement count has gone up to six. Compared to Ricciardo’s three times, it is a lot. Certainly if you compare it to the fact that the Belgian GP was only the twelfth GP of the year. But let us acknowledge just how many of his failures are Red Bull’s fault:

• Bahrain GP: Brake failure
• Spain GP: Crash
• Canadian GP: Electrical failure (battery)
• Azerbaijan GP: Oil pressure
• Austrian GP: Anti- stall and clutch issue
• Belgian GP: Software issue

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While I don’t mind pointing a finger, I do feel it should be directed at the right problem. You cannot lay full responsibility at Red Bull Racing for these problems. They do not make their own brakes (Brembo), nor their batteries (GS Yuasa) or clutches (AP Racing). So that leaves two failures related to their Renault power unit and one to a crash. Again three times you can’t blame Red Bull. Well, perhaps for the fact that by being such a bad mouthing customer no-one wants to offer them a better engine.

Can I also point out the irony in something that happened after the Belgian race? When they asked Jos about Max’ troubles he said that he could not believe people who said that Max would overdrive his car. In this day and age you can’t break a car by driving it too hard. Of course everyone on Dutch TV made that opinion their own, right after the interview. Happy to forget that they used exactly the same argument when Hamilton’s car broke a lot more than Rosberg’s last year. You can’t have it both ways, either no-one can overdrive the car, or everyone can.

Why does Jos, and later on Max, feel the need to lash out at Red Bull?

Well, the rumours surrounding the young Dutch lad of wanting to move to a bigger team have always been there. Before the Milton Keynes based team could secure him, back in August 2014, it was no secret that the Verstappen’s were flirting with Mercedes too. The only reason why he went to the Bull’s junior program is because they contractually agreed to get him in an F1 car sooner.

And I remember, when Red Bull dropped Kvyat in favor of Max, Jos saying he would take a step back. He had done what he could to get his boy to the top, where he belonged. And from there on out he couldn’t do any more. There were more capable persons for this part of Max’ career. So what changed?

We have seen reports that linked Max to both Ferrari and Mercedes for the 2018 season, yet Red Bull have categorically stated (in the form of Helmut Marko and Christian Horner earlier this season and now even Dieter Mateschitz) Max cannot go anywhere. He has a contract that ties him to the Austrian team up until the end of 2019 . And, he has no contract clause. Red Bull didn’t fall for that trick again, after losing Vettel. There are rumours of Ricciardo having a clause that Red Bull should make him a winning car. One win to his name this season, so no breach of contract there. Who knows just how much of the info about Verstappen’s contract and the ‘no clauses’ statement is true?

Also, Ferrari locked in Vettel with a new contract, after giving a new deal to Raïkkönen. Where does this leave Mercedes? Well, Hamilton has stated that he has the power to quit after this season if he wants to. This was all the silly season needed (for Verstappen anyway). But recently Hamilton has said that he couldn’t remember giving that interview. This suggests that the Briton is not finished with F1, and his run at the highly competitive German team hasn’t come to an end.

And let’s not forget there is one driver on the market who looks like an even bigger prospect: Fernando Alonso. Considered by most, in the armchairs and on the grid, as the best of his generation. Showing every week that he, perhaps now in the winter (or Autumn?) of his career, is at the top of his game. I am one of those who think that Alonso is the best driver to arrive in F1, after Schumacher. But by that I purely mean his race-craft. His abilities to outdrive a car’s potential has been proven in F1 for ages now. But the reason why I mention him here is because of the other part of his package.

I fear, if the Verstappen’s keep going down this path, they’ll end up just like Alonso. Make no mistake, there is only one responsible for the ‘downfall of Alonso’. And that is Fernando himself!

There is no denying that his career does not reflect how we feel about him. In the end he only managed to secure two world titles in his career, and I highly doubt there will be another. But if you look at the others he just missed out on (2007, 2010, 2012) he could have been a 5-time champion. A number much closer to how it should be. To think that he would have done it in (some) cars not capable of winning championships in the hands of someone else, would have only made his legacy bigger!

But, and this is the main reason for dragging Alonso in to this article, the toxic relationships between him and his teams has been the biggest factor in his career. If someone were to write a book about all the complaints Alonso has made about his cars, they could write a trilogy on 2017 alone.

While many of us laugh at his radio messages, which put down Honda’s effort endlessly, you have to consider how that makes the people feel that put in countless hours of hard labor. I don’t want to sweet talk Honda, it is an embarrassment what they deliver, but there is another way to do it.

Don’t forget that F1 is the biggest team-sport in the world. Apart from the hundreds of people we see on TV, there are thousands back at the factories. How would you feel if a driver slags off everything you did that week, constantly. I know how I would feel…

There are more examples of how Alonso has been the cancer of a team. Hamilton has gone on record to state that he wouldn’t want Alonso to be his team mate, due to past experiences: “My relationship with Fernando was toxic, and it intoxicated the whole team.” Just like Rob Smedley said that his “Fernando is faster than you” message to Felipe Massa was the turning point for the Ferrari team. It was the moment where Ferrari reverted to being about one driver again. And perhaps, by taking Alonso as he is (emotional, aggressive, passionate and angry), Ferrari got themselves in more troubles than they needed to.

Massa himself said that he never had a problem with Alonso when they were out of the car, or when Fernando was driving in front of him. But when he was behind him the troubles started. Alonso would turn in to a different person. And who doesn’t remember the “Ferrari must improve” messages after every race where the result wasn’t what he hoped for? Granted, between them there have been brilliant races, which confirmed just why I dared calling him the greatest of his generation. But blaming the team for the bad races, and lauding yourself for the good ones isn’t exactly noble.

Now, prior to the Monza weekend, Toto Wolff said why he doesn’t consider Alonso for the second seat in his team. “I think the best drivers always accept the challenge and Fernando would clearly be a challenge, but it is much more than Lewis feeling at ease with Fernando, it is the whole dynamic of the team that plays its part and you have to look at the personalities and characters and how they’d fit in.” On top of that “Fernando has some history with Mercedes and it was not always the best.” By which Toto Wolff hints at Alonso’s involvement at the ‘spy-gate’ scandal.

In the end Alonso’s career can be summarized in to the following Alonso reincarnations: Minardi- Fernando, WDC winning Renault- Fernando, Angry McLaren- Fernando, Angry Renault Fernando, Angry Ferrari Fernando, Angry McLaren- Fernando2.0

Should this be the mould for Verstappen’s career too? It is no secret that the intrateam relationships at Toro Rosso weren’t of the highest level. Dutch media reported that the rivalry between Verstappen and Sainz, in the garage rather than on track, is the direct reason why the Red Bull management got Max out of there. A move made to protect their investment, since they wouldn’t want to lose him. Promoting him to the A-team, with a new and improved contract (for them and Max), was key to secureing just that. Remember, it happened before the half way point of the season, by giving the axe to another driver of their drivers. While reports in the Dutch media declared Max had a contract in place, that would have moved him up to the A-team anyway, at the end of the season. Speeding up this process probably had some ulterior motive, if you ask me.

It is no secret that a top team in Formula One got held by the balls, by this young boy and his dad. That is a quite unique situation. Leave it to the Dutch to do it right, right? Haha. And in the whole ‘power to the people’ agenda, it is a good thing. But I think there is a fine line between doing it right and messing it up.

Remember, when Alonso started that behaviour he was already a double world champion, the youngest ever at that time. Verstappen is, so far, only the youngest Grand Prix winner ever. Hardly the same situation. And the biggest thing I have against it, is that Alonso never became more than a double world champion. Can anyone, honestly, claim that number reflects well on how we feel about him?

Now… for those of you who think Max is also a future (multiple?) world champion, and who are still reading, can you imagine how you will feel if someone writes a similar article about him in 10 years time unable to mention a championship to his name? Remember that the list of those with talent who didn’t make it is longer than the one containing those that did. There is no doubt the young Dutch driver is a diamond in the rough; His Monza qualifying was further proof of that; but I’d hate for him to never become anything more.

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@bruznic

 

Update: my friends over at ‘mobil1: the grid’ just uploaded a clip of Max on the relationship with his dad. (good example of great minds think alike😁)   Check it out.

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41 responses to “Verstappen’s toxic statements

  1. How long ago red bull threaten to leave F1? Now there engine is still not where Red Bull want it to be. But i think they can not threaten Renault, because they know Mercedes and Ferrari will not give them an engine.
    What is Red Bulls commitment. Is Red Bull “waiting” to see if next years engine is good enough?
    If they are waiting i would feel frustrated as well.

  2. Interesting article, of which I agree a lot with. I’ve watched F1 long enough to have seen many young drivers get labelled as future, multiple World Champions who never amounted to much. Albereto, Modena and de Cesaris – the Italian hopes who the press predicted would be modern incarnations of Ascari. Barrichello, who was supposed to be the heir to Fittipaldi and Senna. Coulthard who was the next Jackie Stewart. Even Martin Brundle was touted as the next British WC. And there are a lot more. Remember Michael Andretti? Sometimes mediocre drivers do win a WC – Jacques Villeneuve and Jenson Button being the best examples, but it’s rare.

    The fact is that Verstappen does have a lot of raw talent, just like the the drivers I’ve mentioned above. But right now he doesn’t have race craft. He exhibits all the hallmarks of a driver who doesn’t learn from his mistakes. And unless he starts to change that he could very well end up as a driver who people will wonder why never amounted to anything. As it stands now, if I ran either Ferrari or M-B, the Red Bull driver I would want, would be Riccardo.

    Hard to argue that Alonso isn’t the best technical driver of his generation. But contrast him with Schumacher. When Schumacher joined Ferrari the car was fast but unreliable. Finishing a race was considered an accomplishment. Yet Schumacher worked with the team, encouraged them, was always there for testing. Never did he bad-mouth the team, and believe me he had a lot of reasons in the beginning to do so. Now we think of Schumacher as maybe one of the greatest, and Alonso for his whinging about Ferrari and McLaren – not his WC’s.. Verstappen should take note.

    • I think his race craft needs honing. Like “take into account who you’re racing” and “how long is the race”. But it’s not totally lacking.

      Still, he needs to be more careful what he says to which audience.

    • Max is a product of the PlayStation generation. Great at Time Attack (qualifying). Then confuses real life (race day) with GT mode where you can slam past robot cars with impunity.with “damage” turned off.

      Mr Saturday – Full stop.

  3. I…am disappoint! Bruz, my brudder, you were even-handed! You didn’t go gonzo! Gonna ruin your rep if you keep doing that. Ya done good.

  4. Just because RB didn’t make a component doesn’t mean it’s not their fault it broke. An F1 car is a system of many subsystems and RB is the integrator. Max has more info where the blame lies. But I agree he should show his talent rather than his big mouth at this point in his career.

  5. I was massively disappointed with Jos appearing in the paddock again. Even more so when he opened his mouth.

    I’ve always been a fan of Jos – and without max I would still talk about him and his anger issues, which hindered him in living up to his potential.

    The fact that Red Bull chooses to outsource some of their production doesn’t mean they’re not responsible.

    Still I feel the tone isn’t as toxic as the headlines seem to make it. Online and print miss the “I’m joking” twinkle in max’ eyes.

    • I agree.
      And I think max has a very good sense of humour. I don’t mind him kidding. But I see the difference between the times he is and he isn’t.

  6. First of all. You haven’t done you’re research. Basically the Verstappens don’t blame Red Bull but more Renault. It is clear that he is extremely good for his age and wants to win f1 races. Maybe he is impatient , but that is a good thing if you aim to be the best in the world. If the total package at Red Bull is not good enough, it is logical that Max is seeking other opportunities. He us clearly quicker than Ricciardo, who was faster than Vettel. Put him ina Mercedes and we will see who is faster.

    • But max was the one looking like a fucking schlemiel again, while his teammate got *another* podium.

    • Everyone keep saying max is faster than Danny, but is he really? In the end it only counts who came in first on Sunday. So if max is a half sec quicker on Saturday and still looses out on Sunday, does it really make him quicker?
      Alonso isn’t regarded as the best qualifier out there, but always quick on Sunday. Id rather have it that way than the other way round.

  7. nice piece Bruznic..

    the Jos effect would seem to be a negative one indeed, but then again, maybe it is clever strategy to allow Jos take the flak for venting the frustration/push Maxs agenda rather than Max himself taking shots at the team/Renault a la Alonso (plausible deniability for Max – sure everyone knows my old man is has a short fuse!!). I hate to say Max sometimes reminds me of Jean Alesi in some ways (great talent, no titles) , but I just did. Hope for his sake (and the sports) he manages to clock up more than just that one win!!

    With respect to Alonso, the constant radio messages banging Honda are indeed a bit much – I think we all get it at this stage, so really not helping anyone.

    But – I think people are always far to keen to give credit/blame to drivers for how things develop in a team over the years, ultimately only one driver can win, only one team can build the fastest car. If you have the 10 best designers in world penning the F1 machines with equal resources, one of them will come 10th every year! Looking back, Nando’s big mistake was how he reacted to Lewis presence (and perceived preferential treatment), but then again, clearly McLaren made Alonso promises which they did not keep regarding the number 1 status which lets be honest, was seen as needed at the time to win given Schumachers recent domination of the sport in general and Ferrari in particular…so not all one sided to blame Nando. That left him stuck in the wilderness for a bit …no-one at the time suggested he should go to Red Bull really did they…..he was doing the ‘smart’ thing and lining himself up for Ferrari – and hey, Ferrari came close, but car was not up to it, and it was time to move on. Don’t think Nando can take the blame for Honda’s disastrous 3 years, I think it would have been reasonable to think they’d be able to compete for the title this season (2017) when he first announced his move, and lets face it, Ferrari were not in the championship hunt the last 2 years either.

    At any rate, it is indeed a pity he’ll end up with ‘only’ the 2xWDCs, but hopefully he’ll add an Indycar title as well before he calls it quits, might liven up my Sunday nights.

    • Thanks Marek, of course you’re right. I’m a bit exaggerating in order to create this effect the piece should have. It’s probably dead in the middle of your and my opinion. 😁

  8. This toxicity is a byproduct of Red Bull’s own culture (and in big part Helmut Marko). For over a decade they have been harsh and cruel to everyone from their drivers to engine partner and demanded immediates results. Heck, that’s how Max was actually promoted to Red Bull. Now Max is barking back, quite rightfully, and they don’t like it.

    They deserve it. Karma is a bitch.

    • And I like it that Alonso was mentioned. Goes hand in hand with karma being the b word. Soon he’ll retire, one way or another, only to be remembered as the greatest wasted talent ever.

    • I would argue that every current Red Bull / Toro Rosso driver knew exactly what they were getting into when signed up with the Red Bull program. Did they never hear of Speed, Bourdais, Alguersuari or Buemi? First and foremost Red Bull in F1 is a marketing operation. And you want to market something with winners, not whiners.

      • Exactly, everybody knows it. Red Bull are policies towards drivers are well known to be demanding, combative and naturally toxic. Guess what, they rarely work. Ask Webber. He basically retired out of frustration and resentment even though they gave him all his F1 success and a comfortable retirement.

  9. Even though I’m a huge Verstappen fan, I agree with most of the article. I think it is brilliant to compare Alonso’s issues with Verstappen. No one wants Alonso anymore because he is a massively difficult person. Times have changed. The times that teams accepted the kind of Mansell/Piquet and Prost/Senna antics are over. It’s all about the team now. A guy who is potentially the best (Alonso) has sidelined himself with ridiculous antics.

    Verstappen needs to be careful. There are only 2 top teams at the moment, three at best. If he pisses off one driver/team beyond the point of repair (like Hamilton/Alonso), he could get sidelined very quickly. Max adores his dad. His dad is well known in the Netherlands for anger issues and violent spells. Jos sets the wrong example. In his first year at Torro Rosso they complained and complained about Renault. Jos started and soon Max followed. And Renault is the only possibility for Red Bull. They will never drive with a Mercedes or Ferrari engine. The Verstappens need to use their brain and count their lucky chickens. Apparently they think that every car Max drives should be a 100% winner. That is not going to happen. You have to be lucky. It’s a right time, right place story. Schumacher had it with Benetton and Ferrari. Hamilton had it with McLaren and Mercedes. No other driver was lucky like that. Max should take a look at Hamilton who is really everyone’s friend and understands that it is a mechanical sport. He lost last year title to Rosberg because of technical issues. It happens. Accept it and move on. That gets you a lot more respect than complaining and beating a dead horse.

    Max is utterly talented. He is from the Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton, Senna and Prost category. Check how they treated their employers and equate that to their success or lack thereof. I think it’s a very true article and I hope the Verstappens take note.

      • Re: Conspiracy theories

        I reckon Hamilton:

        1. Has a bit of a messiah complex, never feeling like he’s at fault, ever. Embraces the wins, farms out the losses.

        2. Is keenly interested in his profile / reputation and reads a lot of social media.

        3. Surrounds himself with numpties keen on telling him what he wants to hear.

        A hefty dose of confirmation bias completes the circle.

  10. Oké
    50+ Guy who is proud to be dutch and looooong time F1 fan.watching F1 only on bbc , and after that a dutch tv F1 subscription.
    I was very impresed with Max, Jackie stewart called HIM the next Senna.
    But the last years i named dutch tv, the Max channel.
    It is enormoisly biased and presumtious. I pray for sky to make their F1 subscription available outside the uk.
    The Jos effect is there: watching an interview with Max my wife replied hè sounds exactly like his dad. Everyone is to blame except Him, Max. I could not agree more with your balanced conclusion !

    • Thank you very much. I feel the same about ziggo. It’s a bit too much max for me. But at the same time I understand the whole. One country behind this talent’ bit.
      It would be worse if this wouldve happened with one on the lesser talented blokes, like doornbos or vandegarde 😉

    • Don’t pray for Sky necessarily. The Britishness is just as suffocating as the Max thing you experience.

      You’d think that the Palmer kid was fighting for podiums with the amount of coverage and hand-wringing that goes on about him and his struggles. Mind-boggling.

  11. I’ll add something else that many readers / commenter’s here probably don’t know. I remember seeing Andrea de Cesaris when he first entered F1. The guy was quick – very quick. He exhibited all the qualities that Verstappan has – brash, aggressive, a risk taker on the track. He also like Verstappen made a lot of mistakes and was involved in numerous accidents. But he was young and would learn they said. Unfortunately he didn’t learn and after a couple or three seasons someone coined the name de Crasheris. And from that point on was considered a joke in F1. That’s how quickly things can change from being the next big thing to a has been. And there’s another aspect that hasn’t been mentioned. There are several other young drivers that are on the way up with big things expected of them, LeClerc, Norris, Giovinazzi and maybe even Stroll. Even at 19 time might be running out for Verstappen. And lets not forget Ocon.

  12. I don’t agree with your Alonso comments. The main reason he is not on Mercedes or Ferrari’s radar is because of the way top teams are setup. There is a clear number 1 and a clear number 2 driver. Teams like it like that unfortunately. Alonso is not a number 2 so they are not interested in him. If Ferrari or Mercedes would lose their number one driver he will definitely be their first call. So I don’t buy the Toto Wolff comments and I don’t buy the whole story that teams don’t want him because of his character.

    And then Max; Like always media are overreacting and exaggerating. Max is clearly a positive guy towards the team. He is always joking and smiling with his engineers and Horner/Marko. Only after a race, after his 6th dnf in front of 80.000 of his own fans he made one comment only:. “It is not bad luck, its just bad”. He is not blaming his engineers and not saying anything particularly out of order. Then the media keep on asking 1000 times in a row if he is happy to drive for red bull till 2019 and then he states: “not like its going at the moment”. Hamiltons comments were way worse last year and he was in a team that delivered him 2 championships(hinting that mercedes did it on purpose), and he was still fighting for wins..Vettels radio rants last year were the worst in modern history. Also out of frustration of not having a winning car.

    The comparison with Jos his career is also not valid. Jos was just way to inexperienced to be driving in a top team next to the best driver in modern f1 history. As a result he made mistakes, which cost him his career. Nothing to do with bad career choises or bad behaviour, just not good enough at the time.

    So for me the whole blog is an exaggeration of facts and opinions, mainly highlighting a few out of context comments, which were done at the low point of is career untill now(spa dnf in front of home crowd).

    • I never said jos made bad career choices or had a big mouth, while at benetton.
      I think perhaps you did read it too mich with your orange tinted glasses on 😉

      And of course I exaggerated and used my opinions. I call it an opinion piece in the second paragraph.
      But I’m but I’m not only talking about the comments max made after spa. There were a lot more this year.
      It’s not like I made all these facts up. But don’t believe me, Google it.
      Anyway, Thanks for reading.

  13. What Max fails to realize is that you should not badmouth in such an egocentric way when you do not have an alternative. Did they expect Ferrari to buy him out? Or Mercedes to ditch Bottas?
    The Verstappens are no teamplayers. It is Verstappen first and it is just that the rest of the world fails to accept that. The boy is a great talent, but he will waste it with his egoism.

  14. Statements that drive me crazy:
    1) “He gives 110%” and others of similar form.
    2) “Rossi 9 times world champion”. Only person form whom junior championships count equal to senior championships.
    3) “His abilities to outdrive a car’s potential has been proven in F1 for ages now.” No. He drives the cars far closer to their capability than others. A car has a certain capability due to physics those cannot be exceeded.

    • Then the ‘To think that he would have done it in (some) cars not capable of winning championships in the hands of someone else’ sentence is closer to your liking. 😉

  15. If i’m right, your article is about making the right choices, its about being aggressive, and speaking out versus, being patient and diplomatic. It’s a balancing act for which there is no manual.
    But, is Bruznic right? You can’t be wrong summing up facts, can’t you? So he probably is.

    But what is the value of this article? What is the value of these words?
    At the end it’s about what happens on track. Max is out-qualifying qualification specialist Ricciardo on a regular basis now. He is hailed for his racecraft and his maturity many times. But when you do not finish you don’t score points and don’t score kudos. You need a car that keeps functioning and you need to remember which drivers you can race wheel to wheel and which you can’t (think Monza).
    Max has been hailed as something remarkable, until something goes wrong and articles like this one pop up.
    The same applies to Hamilton. Lewis has been hailed as an absolute legend a couple of times this year. Only to be valued ‘not just of Senna’s and Schumacher’s greatness’ the next weekend when Lewis seemed to be unable to get his car working.

    I’m just waiting for the next weekend. One weekend where Lewis doesn’t get his car working and suddenly Bottas is a championship contender. One weekend where everything works for Ferrari and Vettel is again being compared to Schumacher. One weekend without bad luck for Max and above article will be forgotten…

    • Oh the value of this article is non existence, and probably forgotten by everybody already 😉
      But it gave me something to pass my time with, plus it enables me to get better at writing in English.
      Who is to say if I’m right or wrong? Like said before in one of my previous opinion articles, I’m not a WDC, I am not a GP winner, I have never even driven an f1 car. Niki Lauda does not know who I am. All I do is put the pen to the paper, or the thumb to the mobile phone actually, because I love F1. And I try to spend as much as possible of my days discussing it.

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