Max Verstappen caused a stir again in today’s Chinese Grand Prix by ramming his Red Bull into Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari, ruining the championship leader’s race and depriving himself of a potential race victory.
The young Dutchman started today’s race from the fifth place and moved up two spots right after the start thanks to his softer tyres compared to Lewis Hamilton’s and Kimi Räikkönen’s ones who both started on the yellow-banded softs.
Verstappen initially showed strong pace but he was unable to keep up with second-placed Valtteri Bottas and the race leader at the time, Sebastian Vettel. A clash between Toro Rosso drivers Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly forced the race officials to send the safety car on to the track. Capitalizing on that period, Red Bull pitted its drivers for fresh soft tyres while Mercedes and Ferrari were unable to make such a quick reaction.
As the race was resumed, Verstappen started his attacks from the fourth place. The Dutchman lost his patience, at one point he almost rammed into Hamilton, leaving then the race track himself. He then managed to overtake the Briton. When attacking his next target, the third-placed man Sebastian Vettel, he went for an arguably amateurish move, crashing into the Ferrari and sending it into a spin, causing heavy damage to the underfloor of Vettel’s car. The collision was the latest in a spate of incidents for Verstappen in the first three races of the 2018 F1 season.
The incident came just a week after his clash with quadruple world champion Lewis Hamilton during the Bahrain Grand Prix. Trying to overtake the Briton, the Hasselt-born driver squeezed himself into a non-existent gap, forcing Hamilton off the track. The incident prompted the Mercedes driver to question the maturity of the Red Bull driver.
When asked about Verstappen’s maturity and on-track behaviour, Hamilton replied: "And I don’t know if they’re inexperienced or not totally mature decisions, but they (Red Bull) are not getting the results they should."
As for today’s incident, even Red Bull’s consultant dr Helmut Marko admitted that Verstappen went too far with his aggressive driving approach.
"Max overdid it by trying to overtake Vettel. He just shouldn't overdo it. He knows what he lost. There was a victory for him on the table, but he gave it away." he told Movistar.
Verstappen who usually tries to find external factors to blame admitted that the incident was completely his fault.
"I could see he was struggling on the tyres and tried to brake late in the corners," he said. "I locked the rears and hit him. It was of course my fault. Not what I want."
Despite ruining others‘ races and depriving Red Bull of getting more points, Verstappen thinks he should carry on with his aggressive approach.
“At the moment it is not going the way I like of course, but does it mean I have to calm down? I don't think so.“
Niki Lauda was particularly hard on Verstappen's move against Sebastian Vettel.
"Max is fully to blame for the accident. Seems like reason doesn't get through to him. You normally rise with your mistakes. But he's getting ever smaller. In this case it also seems to be a question of intelligence."
The biggest loser of the incident Sebastian Vettel showed maturity when he was able to regain his patience to discuss the matter right after the chequered flag.
"He came up straight after. He realised that he a mistake. I said to him 'look, the races are long and you threw your podium away'. He was lucky to continue, I was lucky to continue, but it was not necessary."
"I think he got it. He was quite composed and realised that he messed up. I told him that was the way to solve it, face to face and not through the media or blowing something up,” Vettel was quoted as saying by autosport.