The weekend in Monaco ended up in a big celebration for Red Bull, due to the fact that Daniel Ricciardo won the race and made a great gift to the team for its 250th start in F1. The Australian has been basically flying the whole weekend, dominating the free practice sessions, qualifying, and in the end winning the race despite a failure of MGU-K. On the other side of the spectrum that weekend was Max Verstappen, suffering from (another) quite costly crash in Fp3 that looked exactly the same as his crash in Monaco in 2016, that left him with no time in the Qualifying and last place on the grid during Sunday’s race. He managed to cross the finish line on the 9th place, but not only do the fans have enough of his constant crashing, but the team representatives as well, due to the fact that it cost the team not only money but a lot of points as well.
In an interview, Christian Horner said :"It's costing money to repair the car and you are giving away valuable points in the constructors' championship, and we should be right there with Mercedes and Ferrari. We have given away probably over 60-65 points this year. We need both drivers performing at an optimum to be able to fight with those two teams.” Verstappen has been criticized a lot due to the fact that during every single racing weekend of the 2018 season he suffered from some kind of incident. In Australia, although he did not crash, he spun his car and finished 6th. In Bahrain he collided with Lewis Hamilton and needed to retire. In China, he crashed into Sebastian Vettel, although he was able to in the end cross the finish line on the 5th place. Most controversial incident happened during the Azerbaijan GP, when he crashed with Daniel Ricciardo and both of the Red Bull cars were forced to retire. During the Spanish GP, Verstappen hit Lance Stroll when the Virtual Safety Car ended, but he was able to pull up on the third place. We can see that not only the fans have enough, but that also the team has been running out of patience towards the young Dutch. Unfortunately for him, his team mate Daniel Ricciardo has already won two races this season, and his performance has been not only consistent, but also calm and thought through.
To recap on Verstappen's history in F1: he is currently participating in his 4th season in Formula 1, and his second one in Red Bull Racing. Since the beginning of his F1 career, he has been named the Wonder Kid of F1. Although he's only 20 years old, there have been already speculations about his racing future – will he join Ferrari or Mercedes as his next destination? Well, those speculations can in a way be delayed due to the beginning of this season. Shall we still pretend his crashes are just minor mistakes, or is it finally time to back up his talent with good results? I personally think the latter one. It is under no doubt that Verstappen owns a lot of talent and has a huge potential to become a World Champion one day. But already after four seasons in Formula One, he should find a way to get back into the „real game”. When you drive for a team such a Red Bull Racing, there is a very small allowance for mistakes. Due to his outstanding performance in the first GP's he drove for RBR, there has been a lot of pressure on Verstappen to constantly improve even more. When he does not bring results expected from him, a wave of bad words flood from everywhere, even his father Jos. This year’s chain of misfortune has its roots in the previous season, where he retired over 7 times in all 20 races, and was able to get 4 podiums, in which two times the first place. Already last year, but most certainly this season we can see that sometimes he falls into the trap of rookie mistakes, or he cannot correctly assess the situation and let's his braveness lead him into most of the time, quite bad situations. Of course, one has to admit he can also perform very well, bring great overtakes and deliver amazing results for the team. But despite being only 20, the four seasons in F1 and 2 seasons in one of the top 3 F1 teams should have taught him how to behave in certain situations. He might bring the spark of excitement that we somehow lacked in the circus of F1, but somehow the costs of his bravery are too high to always tolerate it. If we can compare him to his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, we can see that in a way Ricciardo has found a good balance in his performance. He's able to deliver great performance and high points for the team, but he also likes to play and fight on the track and with a reason he has been named the greatest overtaker that F1 currently has. Especially this kind of comparison can put Verstappen in a difficult situation, which can cause issues inside of the team.
When asked about the current situation with the young Dutch, the team boss Christian Horner replied: '"Max has an abundance of talent. He's had some harsh lessons, obviously, this year and I think a modified approach will benefit him. What's frustrating is that he's working harder than ever. He feels fitter than ever and it feels like he's trying a bit too hard. When you get into a spiral you try harder. You have to hit the reset button."
We cannot deny that Verstappen is indeed talented and has the chance to become a World Champion one day, but he needs to find a way to improve his performance from now one. Will he do it? The few upcoming races might tell us if he is able to overcome this bad period or no.