Max Verstappen eager to headline in Canada but without Monaco mishaps

时间:2019-07-20 责任编辑:席冫铆 来源:北京pk10计划 点击:74 次

Entertaining as it might be for the rest of us, Max Verstappen will probably be hoping his rollercoaster ride since being promoted from Toro Rosso to the senior squad at will only be on a gentle incline in Canada. Up or down, the crucial part is that it ends with a decent finish in the points and no incidents. What he cannot afford, if he is to maintain his strong claim to be a future world champion, is any hint of the errors that cost him so dearly at the last round in Monaco, where he crashed three times over the race weekend.

Verstappen stepped up to Red Bull from Toro Rosso on 5 May, replacing . He had been impressive at Toro Rosso, aggressive, unafraid to throw his car about and try moves that were bold and thrilling. He was unphased by either the circuits he was experiencing for the first time or the exalted company he was now racing against. That almost all of his previous experience of single-seater car racing was one season in Formula 3, made it even more impressive.

He was, on his Toro Rosso debut at 17 years and 166 days, the youngest driver in F1, and just 10 days after being appointed to the Red Bull seat, That drive too had been immense, perfectly judged, holding off no less than Kimi Raikkonen while bringing his car home on rubber that was reaching its limits. It was a calm, skilled and professional drive that belied the fact that he was only 18 years and 228 days old and competing in only his 24th grand prix.

Two weeks later Monaco was a different affair. Initial signs at the circuit had been good. The extreme, unforgiving test of the streets of Monte Carlo seemed, as with the other tracks, to hold no demons for Verstappen. On his first run there in 2015, he put in a time second only to Lewis Hamilton in free practice one – the debate whether he was ready for F1 was briefly forgotten.

But only briefly. In the race he overcooked it going into turn one and went up the back of Romain Grosjean, ending both their afternoons and for which, despite his protestations, he was found responsible after the data was investigated.

This year it was, if anything, worse, since there were no mitigating circumstances. In free practice three he was too heavy on the brakes and understeered into the barriers at Massenet, going up the hill to Casino Square. In the first qualifying session he then broke his suspension on a kerb on the entry to the Swimming Pool complex, and finished in the barrier in Q1.

He admitted it had been a “miscalculation” and it put him at the back of the grid for the start. A decent fightback followed and he was in the points when he crashed again.

There’s no shame in going out at Monaco and trading paint with the wall is part and parcel of the experience – Sebastian Vettel was doing it in practice after all. But what is of concern for Verstappen is that the final accident was at the same place and strikingly similar to the one he had in practice. Again he had the front-left locked and went into the barriers at Massenet. Again he admitted it had been a mistake and that “I learned a lot of things – of course to stay out of the wall first of all”.

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is not as unforgiving as Monaco but it is still harsh. High speed and heavy braking, with more places where mistakes are punished than most of the modern enormodromes, Verstappen needs to negotiate it with care. His aggressive style is often forgiven on tracks where going wide is met only with dropping a few tenths rather than the front wheels.

Last year he was 15th in Canada, albeit partly as a result of the five-place grid penalty he picked up for the incident at Monaco, and had been bullish before the race as well, answering criticism by saying: “I will keep fighting, especially when you want to fight for the points, I will still go for it. I will not change my driving style. I was attacking.” Now racing in the senior team and at the front of the grid, the attention to that style is more acute than ever.

Red Bull’s team principal, Christian Horner, has admitted that Verstappen is still on a learning curve but one that he believes his driver is benefitting from. His future will depend on it. If he is to be world champion learning the lessons on track and not repeating them will be key. Harnessing what is an undeniably gripping and potentially brilliant talent is his task now, and Canada is the first step on the way to having another crack at mastering Monaco in 12 months’ time.