Two weeks ago Max Verstappen had just become the youngest ever Formula One grand prix winner in history, after a fabulous maiden victory in the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix. This week however he is experiencing the other side of that coin, having had an incident packed weekend, and begun to learn about F1 the hard way.
The Dutchman had a troublesome weekend in Monaco, first of all clattering the barriers in the final practice session of the weekend on Saturday morning, before a similar incident saw him crash out of qualifying in Q1, condemning the 18-year-old to the pit lane for the start of the grand prix. On Sunday his race came to a sticky end too, as he pushed to continue on with his strong performance from Spain, losing the RB12 into the barrier at Massanet, in wet conditions. It was a cold, hard lesson learnt for Verstappen, who now knows how it feels to take the rough with the smooth.
His inexperience may have been shown up on a tight and twisty track such as Monaco, but there is no reason to go overboard and question his ability just yet, unless it becomes a regular occurrence…and besides, many a F1 world champion has found themselves in the wall at Monaco!
Even the most seasoned of drivers find the Monte-Carlo streets difficult to traverse, and at a track where the young Dutchman has only raced on a handful of occasions, in a car he is still getting used to having only joined the Red Bull Racing squad for the last round in Barcelona, Verstappen can surely be forgiven for the odd error along the way.
Red Bull Racing Team Boss Christian Horner, confirmed to Autosport.com that he is not worried about the 18-year-old’s recent mistakes. “He had a very strong first half of the race. He had made some great overtaking moves, and had made good progress to be running in the top ten.
“He was pushing on because basically he saw that [Nico] Rosberg was not that far ahead, and unfortunately the conditions caught him out at the top of the hill. He wasn’t the only one today who was caught out.
“It has been a very contrasting weekend for him compared to two weeks ago, but I think it is all part of the learning curve that he is on.
“I think the trajectory that you can see is still extremely impressive, and I think he can only learn. And I doubt you will see him make the same mistakes this time next year.”
Verstappen himself clearly rues the errors, immediately apologising to the team after the race, annoyed with himself for how the weekend unfolded.
“In the end I have to apologise to the team because they worked really hard to get the car prepared, it shouldn’t have happened and I didn’t give them the result they deserved, and I’m very sorry for that. I’m just disappointed in myself because this shouldn’t happen.”
What is important now is that the 18-year-old learns from his mistakes, and is able to move forward from here. From what we have seen of Verstappen so far in his racing career, he will likely do just that, and perhaps even be a more improved driver for it.