The first half of the Formula 1 season has been successfully overcome. We were lucky to watch 12 amazing, spectacular and crazy races. However, some people still say that the season is quite boring and monotonous: one after another victory goes to Mercedes. Obviously, these people are right, Mercedes really has no rivals this year. But there is still one guy in the peloton, who doesn’t let the leaders relax and completely bored fans. This guy's name is Max Verstappen.
Max is having his best season this year. This season 21-year-old driver became the absolute leader of his team, after Daniel Ricciardo left Red Bull. Max and Dan have always been fighting for the "first number" in the team, which influenced the overall result of Red Bull in races. In the fight for dominance on the track teammates collided or interfered with each other, knocked each other off the track, what in the end deprived Red Bull of all points.
This year the atmosphere in the team has definitely changed: now Bulls have a leader who is confident, calm and knows he is exactly the only one on whom the team focuses. And a newcomer, who learns a lot from the leader, gains experience. Although in the situation with Red Bull, it can be called “a loss to a teammate and risk of being outside of the Red Bull system”.
Looking back at the results of the past 12 races, it’s safe to say that Max is the hero of the first part of the season. As minimum in his team, as maximum in the fight against the undefeated leaders of the championship.
What results has the driver achieved in the last six months? Max Verstappen has been on the podium times, got the first pole position in his career and won two races that Mercedes couldn’t win. So, let's remember these beautiful performances by Max.
Melbourne & Barcelona
The first races, where Max declared himself and showed the competitiveness of the Red Bull car and mainly the reliability and power of Honda engines, were the first race of the season in Australia and the Spanish race. At these stages Max Verstappen took third place on the podium.
The first victory came to Max in Austria, on the track that perfectly fits Ferrari. Indeed, the red cars were fast throughout the whole weekend (with the exception of some Vettel’s problems in qualifying). However, Italians again failed to realize their potential in the race. Meanwhile, Max didn’t lose the chance and did what had to do Ferrari drivers - interrupted a series of Mercedes’ victories.
Although at the beginning of that race it seemed that it won’t complete successfully for Verstappen. At the start the driver literally fell asleep and lost a few positions. Nevertheless, he had enough time to overtake rivals and gain a foothold among the leaders. On the final laps Max had used a favorite tactic of Lewis Hamilton - on team radio he complained to the team about problems with the engine. And then immediately overtook Bottas, who a little slowed down. Then there began tough and beautiful fight between Max and Charles Leclerc, in which the Dutch even risked getting a penalty, as he acted on the track too aggressively. However, the Stewards didn’t see anything dangerous in Max's actions and kept his victory.
The second win in the season for Verstappen. In Germany Mercedes drivers and cars was in a weak form. In addition, the race at Hockenheim was held in the raining conditions, which complicated the work of all teams, but especially influenced the results of Mercedes, as they weren’t ready for some moments.
As for the Ferrari, that weekend was a failure for Italian team, despite the speed and pace they had. Sebastian Vettel has started the race from the last place due to technical problems with the power unit in qualifying, and then in the race Ferrari lost Leclerc’s car. Thus, Max Verstappen, who is especially good on the wet track, became the race leader and won the second race in the first part of the season, despite the fact he repeated the mistake at the start again and at the begging of the race lost a few positions.
The Hungarian Grand Prix became a special one for Max. In Saturday's qualifying the driver won the first pole position in his career!
In the race Max also had every chance of another victory. Despite the tendency to lose starts in the Hungarian race Max kept his position at the start. However, then Max faced many problems with tyres, and at the same time kept attacks from Lewis. Although Lewis himself had problems with work and wear of tyres too, but he still managed to caught up with Verstappen.
However, the tyred played the key role in Hamilton victory. After an unlucky stretch on Hard, which increased the gap between Lewis and Max by 20 seconds, Hamilton changed Hard tyres to Medium. On the last laps Max also drove into the pits and put Soft, but it didn’t help him in the battle with rival, and on the last laps Lewis overtook Max. Anyway, in Hungary Max earned another podium and scored big points.
Now Verstappen has P3 in Drivers’ standings, with 181 points. He is quite far away from Vettel, who has 156 points on his account, but close to Bottas, who has 188 points. If the Finn continues weak performances next races, Max may go ahead in the second part of the season. Since this part of the calendar has few tracks that are ideal for Red Bull and Max, particularly Singapore and Mexico. In Mexico Max became the winner of the last two years: in 2017 and 2018.