Max Verstappen has behaved tremendously good in the last year, both in and out of his Red Bull.
Until this last month.
From Monaco 2018 Max has performed incredibly good on track, with not a single mistake on his side. There, the Dutch man crashed his RB13 during the third free practice session, making it difficult for his mechanics to repair the car in time for qualifying.
At that time, Max’s statistics were insane: he did a mistake almost in every of six races of 2018, but from Monaco on, he has been flawless.
And the highest of this redemption can be seen in Monaco 2019 performance, where Verstappen acted clinically to study Lewis Hamilton and wait for the perfect moment to attack him. Unfortunately, he has been penalized, in the race, because of an unsafe release during the pit stop which almost made him crash with Valtteri Bottas.
Verstappen also brought back victory to Milton Keynes and, most of all, to Honda, with his triumphs in Austria and Germany this year.
Anyway, it’s funny to notice that this change coincides with Jos Verstappen’s “exile” from the Red Bull garage. Christian Horner decided to try and leave the young lad all alone in the garage, without his father influence, and it worked.
Max has been the perfect driver in and out of track, but it couldn’t last that long.
In Formula 1, all that matters are the results: the faster you are, the more you win, the greatest you become.
At the same time, to be remarkable this is not enough: one week you win, and you are F1 god, the next GP you make a mistake or fall out of the top 5 and suddenly you are no one. Ask Sebastian Vettel about it.
To truly be someone remarkable in the Paddock you also need charisma: personality is a big part of the perfect driver, always followed by journalists, media, attention, fans.
Max woke up and realized this, realized that maybe he has been the “good boy” for too much.
Mad Max became again “Bad Max” when he took Pole Position in Mexico.
Valtteri Bottas had just crashed, but Verstappen ignored the double yellow flag and kept his feet on the throttle, getting a Pole Position that was his already.
No one noticed it, the FIA didn’t investigate, until one journalist asked Max about what happened during the Qualifying Press Conference. We all know what happened technically, but what surprised everyone was Max’s sufficient tone when he just said: "well, then delete my lap” like it was nothing that important.
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Jos Verstappen, his father, also didn’t make it easier when he said that “he shouldn’t have said anything”, adding that this was another learning moment for his son.
The young Red Bull driver also continued one week later, in Austin, Texas, when he accused Ferrari of cheating with their engine. In fact, Red Bull asked for a technical clarification about it to the FIA. Nothing was found but, coincidentally, Ferrari lacked of pace in Austin. The Maranello team explained that the reason had to be found in an experimental set-up mode to increase the downforce, which, obviously, didn’t work.
Verstappen, as usual, didn’t miss the chance to speak: “You get that when you stop cheating” he told to Ziggo Sport, a Dutch tv sport channel.
Once again, his father Jos tried to repair his son’s damages.
“I think we all know that something is wrong, but you can't say it that way. You can never know what exactly happened, but we can see from the data that they were suddenly much less fast”.
So basically, once again, Jos suggests silence is a better choice but, at the same time, continues to speak and support Max’s statements in front of the media.
He even spoke about his son relationship with now 6 time World Champion Lewis Hamilton, affirming that Max and Lewis don’t need to be friends.
But he continued: “He should focus on his work on the track, as he does already, and when journalists raise the issue, pretend that nothing happened”.
“Personally, I think Lewis is afraid of Max on track.”
Once again the former F1 driver suggests silence to his son, but doesn’t miss a single opportunity to speak and feed the fire around Max.
A strategy? Maybe, but people like Jacques Villeneuve, 1997 F1 World Champion, have been labeled Max as a “bad role model”.
Will Jos Verstappen try to catch his son’s light again or guide him in being the bad guy in the Paddock? For sure Max is destined to a great and shining career, but who knows if he will be a bad boy forever. Only time will tell.