This season, F1’s youngest ever race winner must’ve been doing some serious soul searching.
Max Verstappen’s continuous error making has caused a huge points loss for himself and Red Bull. Too aggressive, too impatient, not mature enough – even his own team have demanded a new attitude from the Dutchman. Max has been on the podium only once in the six races and has had two retirements. His Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo has won twice already.
“We’re all human,” says Red Bull’s Adrian Newey to Reuters during the Motorsport Magazine Hall of Fame event yesterday.
“He can try and shrug off everybody else’s comments and opinions but when you’ve had a run like that, you question yourself a bit. Of course you do. But I think he’s tough enough that he’ll come through that,”
“He’s had one of those bad runs. He’s a great driver, he’s very quick and at some point he’ll shed that (poor sequence) again and be on his way,” says Newey.
“Part of being a racing driver is learning from your mistakes and I think he’s bright enough to do that.”
It’s interesting to understand just how much damage in points the errors have cost him, fortunately for us Germany’s AMuS reported today their calculation, and it makes interesting reading. What would the points table look without these errors?
Verstappen had damaged the underbody by driving too wildly over the curbs and made a spin on lap 9. This Romain Grosjean, Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg slipped through. Because Grosjean failed later and Hülkenberg was overtaken by an undercut again, Verstappen lost at first glance, only one position but due to the loss of time during the spin and the battered car, Fernando Alonso also got the chance to pass by a stop in the virtual safety car phase, which otherwise would not have been possible for the Spaniard.
In other words, Verstappen was ahead of his team-mate Ricciardo, who finished fourth. So that would have been the place that Verstappen would have taken without the mistake.
4 points were lost.
In Bahrain, the “what-if-question” is not that easy to answer. In qualifying Verstappen fired his car in turn 2 in the tyre wall.
After some consideration, the Red Bull officials admitted that it was a driving mistake. From grid position 16, the youngster made up 5 places in the first lap. But in the duel with Lewis Hamilton it came to a momentous collision. Verstappen dragged himself with a puncture yet to the pits.
It’s difficult to say where the number 33 car finished up. Helmut Marko thought a victory thanks to the good race pace, but at least a podium finish. Hamilton finished later with 6.5 seconds back to third place behind Vettel and Bottas. Because it can not be said that Verstappen really got past the other top cars on the track, a conservative in fourth place.
Red Bull had an uncharacteristic fast car in China. The team played a blinder and pitted the cars during the VSC phase meaning that on the restart for lap 37, the Dutchman was ahead of his teammate. An unsuccessful attack on Hamilton reversed the order. Five laps later he also collided with the Vettel Ferrari, which led to a massive loss of time.
At the end Verstappen still finished behind Bottas and Räikkönen. Team mate Ricciardo easily won the race with just under 9 seconds ahead. Without mistakes and with a little more patience, we would’ve ended up with a Red Bull double win with Max Verstappen on the top step. Incidentally, without the collision Vettel would have finished third and not slipped to 8th place with a damaged car.
The crash with team mate Ricciardo had the race stewards give the incident as a ‘racing incident’. But practically all the experts and driver agree that the double change in the direction by Verstappen caused the crash.
The incident had even more far reaching consequences than just the double failure for both Red Bull who would’ve finished 4th and 5th. Bottas would have likely won the race without the safety car thanks to the tyre advantage in the final laps. There would’ve been no restart which saw Magnussen and Gasly creating debris which later caused a puncture and the failure of Bottas.
Without the restart, Vettel probably would not have had the chance to attack Bottas, so no over shoot outbraking himself, which put him back in fourth place at the end.
Hamilton would never have won the race under normal circumstances, and Raikkonen and Perez in 2nd and 3rd place also benefited from the chaos caused by the Red Bull crash in the final laps.
In comparison to the crash in Bahrain and Baku, the collision was almost nothing in Barcelona. During the restart Verstappen collided with the Williams of Lance Stroll and damaged the front wing. The Dutchman was lucky that his car did not lose too much pace despite the damage, and so didn’t need to pit for a new nose.
The two Mercedes were unbeatable in Barcelona. Sebastian Vettel did not pose a threat due to his tyre problems behind Verstappen . And team mate Daniel Ricciardo had lost a lot of time due to a self-inflicted spin and thus was unable to intervene in the fight for the podium.
The crash in Free Practice 3 was devastating for Red Bull. The mechanics did not manage to get damaged car ready for qualifying again putting the Dutchman to the back of the grid for the race start. Despite a great drive to finish 9th, the points loss was massive proven by team mate Ricciardo’s pole position and race win.
A conservative estimate places him at lease 2nd had he not made the error on the Saturday.
Max Verstappen would not have only 35 points but a whopping 90 points and would be in third place in the battle for the title. What’s more interesting is the effect on the other drivers, without his mistakes the points table would look quite different.
At the top, Sebastian Vettel would not be 14 points behind Hamilton but 17 points clear. Besides Vettel, Bottas is the biggest victim of the Verstappen errors. His tally would rise from 68 to 85 points.
Thanks to AMuS for this estimate.