Max Verstappen's luck seems to have turned on a stable basis, as the Dutchman scored his second podium finish in a row at the French Grand Prix. After Canada's rewarding third place, the Red Bull driver solidly took the second spot yesterday, outdoing his teammate Daniel Ricciardo since the beginning of the race.
Taking full advantage of Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas' incident, Verstappen jumped to P2 after Turn 1, securing an early podium from the start and trying to man mark race leader Lewis Hamilton. Although Mercedes' pace was superior, the Dutchman impressively kept up throughout all 53 laps and never allowed the Briton to escape by more than 5 to 7 seconds.
Is this a sign of a rising curve for Max Verstappen? Well, it certainly is, looking at his progression. Coming from a disastrous Monaco Grand Prix, where he hit rock bottom by replicating his 2016 qualifying crash at the Swimming Pool, Verstappen faced an early challenge on Thursday in Canada. Candidly asked about his frequent incidents, the 20-year-old did not dwell on it and bluntly manifested his displeasure. The 'head butt' threat as a reaction to the umpteenth exhortation to change his approach took his 'villain image' to another level, but it was a matter of a few days until the Dutch sensation silenced the critics owing to his 3rd place.
Yesterday he added one more brick to his 2018 campaign, which did not start off the way he expected but can be flipped through a consistent streak of accomplishments. He is currently 6th in the standings with 68 points, literally stuck in no man's land ahead of Hulkenberg at 34 and behind Raikkonen by 15 points. Even though it may be too early to open the champagne, Verstappen decided to be ruthless, with a rather savage and cheeky dig at the post-race press conference.
Aiming to shoot to the media, Verstappen set Vettel as an example for his subtle mockery. The German had qualified third behind the Mercedes duo, with a big chance of turning things around during the race. His suicidal manoeuvre on Bottas cost him a podium finish - other than the championship lead- and perhaps even the victory, as his stonking race pace proved. It is not the first time that Vettel's weaknesses emerge at the start when he is not on the front row, as driving in traffic has never been his specialty, from a physical and mental perspective.
Verstappen adopted a rather ironical tone while talking about Vettel, as his ultimate target were the taunts coming from the floor: "Next time you see Seb, you should ask him to change his style because it is not acceptable. That's what they said to me at the beginning of the season, so they should do the same. And then Seb shouldn't do anything, try again and learn from this and go on. That's my advice to everyone in this room." he is quoted.
Obviously Verstappen had to swallow an indigestible bite and therefore grabbed the moment to fire back in his own way, in full disclosure, once asked to comment of Vettel's 5s penalty. Now that he got a few matters sorted, will he succeed at reaching higher?