20 April 2018

Max Verstappen...

So Max Verstappen is a young aggressive driver, who is going through a patch of having a few accidents. It happens to most rising stars at some point. The only difference is that Max has already been a winner and so clearly knows how to do it, and his frustration is not born from the need for more experience, but rather because he is having to push his machinery more than it can be pushed. What he wants is a car that can win him races without the need of a Safety Car or others having accidents.

Thus his frustration will only be allievated if the car improves and he starts to win with it. The reality is that the problem comes primarily from the engine, which is still not a match for the Ferrari or the Mercedes. Red Bull is consistently ahead of the Renault factory team and also McLaren, so it is entirely fair to say that the team has a better chassis, as the power units are the same. Red Bull is just about where it needs to be, close enough to strike when an opportunity arises, but not close enough to lead the dance. Perhaps Max was hoping after a strong end to the 2017 season that this year the team would be there. That’s not unreasonable, but the reality is that the team is still not close enough, although it may be on some circuits as the year develops. Performance these days is very circuit-specific and we need to see more to judge whether Ferrari and Mercedes will be ahead everywhere.

There are some media mountebanks trying to peddle the idea that Verstappen needs to change his style. Why would he do that? It has proven successful thus far and has given the sport a little extra zing, why on earth would you change it? A driver’s style is part of his character and perhaps as he grows older Max will mellow, as many drivers do, but his style and his youth, and his mistakes, and his genius all add to the sport and we should not want him to do anything other than going racing as he knows how to race. So, why get on his back? Is it because it’s a quiet Thursday and the editor wants some copy to fill the endless pages of cyber-land to garner a few more page-views to use to keep the advertisers happy and to justify paying the salary of a scribbler who has little to scribble about. In such circumstances the writers always turn to the negative. It’s easier to bang out 300 words on what is wrong than about what is great. Yup, that’s the only logic I can see in all of this.

In any case, does anyone think Max will listen to this background noise? You don’t get to be a Grand Prix driver by being sensitive to media criticism. If you cannot soak it up, you simply don’t listen and lead a life unencumbered by the press.

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