As a Formula One driver, you build up a reputation over the years. Those that you can anticipate will give you racing room, such as Kimi Raikkonen. Those that do not, Pastor Maldonado. Those you trust, those you are unsure of… Where does Max Verstappen fit here?
The youngster from the Netherlands certainly has built himself a reputation for driving in the wet, with an imperious race during a drenched Brazilian Grand Prix. It would also be fair to say he’s built quite the reputation for ambitious overtakes, and not always in a successful, clean manner. But could he be considered sneaky? Or even impatient? His transition from karting, a brief spell in F3 then straight into Formula One suggests that it might well be the case.
Alonso seems to think so. A post race interview with Channel 4 in the UK revealed his feelings toward Red Bull’s Max Verstappen when quizzed about the situation when he tried to allow Alonso back in front having just received an instruction to do so.
“I saw that Max waved and wanted to let me pass. But I thought that was maybe a trick and did not want to drive by, ” confirmed the Spanish Samurai.
Verstappen had overtaken the Spaniard in the first corner of the virtual safety car period when he came out of the pit lane. The split was by a mere 0.1 seconds so impossible for the drivers to judge from the cockpit. The radio message instructing Alonso should pass was first given to Max, then there was a delay in doing the same for the McLaren pit wall to pass onto Alonso. Meanwhile, a rather impatient Verstappen began wildly gesturing for Alonso to go past.
“I wanted it confirmed three times that I’m really allowed to drive by,” confesses Alonso
If he had driven past the Dutchman before getting a green light to do so, a penalty would’ve certainly been issued to the McLaren driver. He was then asked directly if he didn’t trust Verstappen.
“No,” laughs Alonso.
“Max is especially very aggressive in overtaking maneuvers. With his little tricks, it is better to get a confirmation.”
One can understand why Max Verstappen was impatient, having had a Haas pass him at the start, preventing a challenge to the front runners.
Australian Grand Prix – Post race reaction
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Verstappen has since hit out at the lack of overtaking, insisting the organisers should have better anticipated the problem.
“[Haas] were a second slower than the Ferraris. They were just lucky that they came in front of us,” said Verstappen.
“And here you can’t overtake. Look at Hamilton and Vettel. And the same story with Alonso. They were also much slower, but you can’t pass them. You try, but it doesn’t make any difference.
“Even if you are one and a half second faster, it’s still not possible to overtake. It is more down to the cars, because there used to be no problem with overtaking.”
Alonso’s fifth-place finish in Melbourne is McLaren’s best result to the start of a season since 2014.
“The situation [with Verstappen] was always under control and, as I said yesterday, this year we can defend our position, we can attack, so it’s a different kind of racing for us. I’m happy, it was a good start, as I said yesterday we have a lot of potential to get out of the car, I hope we can extract it all and hopefully in the next few races we can fight higher up the field.” said the McLaren driver.