OPINION: Has Max Verstappen got under Sebastian Vettel’s skin?


Start of the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix. Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel is a four-time world champion, and one of the most experienced men on the current Formula 1 grid, so would he really feel threatened by 19-year-old Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen?

Former F1 journalist Kevin Eason certainly thinks so, and if the German’s actions at the start of the Singapore Grand Prix are anything to go by, he has a point.

Speaking on the Sky Sports F1 Report recently, Eason pointed out that the Singapore Grand Prix was the first race in which the pair had lined up next to each other on the grid, and Vettel was clearly not comfortable with the situation.

“In Formula 1 there is one driver that Seb respects and that’s Lewis. But there’s one that he actually fears and that’s Max.

“And I don’t quite know why. Max has got right under his skin.

“As soon as Sebastian knew Max was next to him on the grid the collywobbles were going.

“I’m sure he looked across at that Red Bull car and thought ‘whatever happens today, he’s not going past me’. I think that helped trigger the whole incident.”

Such was his fear of what Verstappen might do, the Red Bull driver having looked so strong throughout the weekend; Vettel was seemingly willing to keep the Dutchman behind him whatever the cost, causing him to cast all thoughts of winning this year’s drivers world championship aside.

Sunday’s race was the perfect chance for the German to take back the lead in the driver’s standings, with the Marina Bay Street Circuit clearly a far more favourable track for Ferrari than the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, as the results of all three practice sessions and qualifying showed.

However, instead of concentrating on the fact that all he needed to do on Sunday was beat title rival Lewis Hamilton to head up the championship, Vettel, having not got the best start off the line, chose to forcefully defend his lead from Verstappen.

The German panicked and squeezed the Dutchman left, forcing him to veer into Vettel’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who also had a blinding start and found himself with nowhere to go, as both the RB13 and SF70-H closed in on him. As the cars touched, the Finn’s machine snapped back across the track and into the side of Vettel, taking all three drivers out of the race before the first lap was over.

A golden opportunity for the Maranello based squad had gone begging, and it was primarily of their own doing.

There really was no need for Vettel to be so aggressive on the very first lap of what was to be a long race, in which his main rival was on the back foot. So did the pressure of knowing this was the best chance Ferrari had of taking a strong victory ahead of Mercedes, perhaps add to the German’s fervour?

Only the German can confirm what was going through his mind at the time, but he must surely be kicking himself for making such a rookie error, when the scene looked firmly set in his favour.

  • jvjb

    Well there you have it. Two so called ‘experienced drivers’ with loads of GP’s under their belt, two grown up men, real ‘adults’, who were critical of ‘young Mad Max’, who in their opinion still had a lot to learn, had to calm down, had to be punished, and so on – took their young teenage rival out of the Singapore GP in the most amateurish way thinkable. On top of all that it was Max Verstappen who appeared the most composed and clear headed in the interviews after the crash.
    Makes you think does it not about the speed with which young Max not only learned to be better in his race-craft than these guys, but surpassed them in the meantime mentally and emotionally off track as well.

  • Do Do

    Punks like him always get under everyone’s skin. Crash boy is always involved. His experience isn’t nearly enough for how aggressive he is.

  • Roger Flerity

    Vettel could care less about Max. He is feeling pressure to make the Ferrari do more than it is capable of – a car that is now falling backward in performance against Mercedes and losing the development war against Red Bull. He was shocked when he took pole, because he knew the car wasn’t quick enough to own that spot. He also knew Max would do something overly aggressive going into T1, as he has before – so took overly aggressive approach in a futile effort to avoid getting trapped behind him, since Max has no issue shoving people off the track when defending, or taking short cuts to hold position. Vettel was feeling more pressure than ever to recover from the last two where Mercedes made Ferrari look pretty awful – in front of the home crowd no less. Mercedes will soon enough make it clear there is no possibility of taking either championship (word is the engraver has already finished the Constructors trophy with Mercedes on it), which will take some of the pressure off, as Ferrari and everyone else abandon 2017 to get started on 2018. The only real story remaining for 2017 – is whether Bottas can step up and take 2nd in the WDC, which is likely if Ferrari has truly lost the plot, which appears a very real possibility. .

  • Mike

    Maybe you must go watch darts again. It seems F1 is a bit to hard for you to understand…

  • Mike

    Amen

  • Mike

    There is – in my opinion – only one good example where Verstappen made a real mistake in turn 1 getting a bit to agressive on the inside. Beside that, Max had multiple hits feom others (for example Bottas) that cost him his game. Vettel made a huge and stupid mistake and he could just have let Verstappen pass in turn 1 and than Vettel was able to be cruising to p2 with the much needed points. But he had to show his ‘class’ and his ‘arrogance’ that cost 3 people the race and Ferrari the championship. Foolish…

  • Mike

    Sorry I am not gay…

  • Do Do

    No? hard to believe, whatever, use your mouth to wash my balls anyway.

  • Mich Steal

    How old are you ? 13?