Ver­stap­pen draws com­par­isons with the F1 greats

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

MAX VER­STAP­PEN was com­pared to For­mula One greats Ayr­ton Senna and Michael Schu­macher yes­ter­day af­ter the Dutch teenager’s sen­sa­tional drive to third place in a wet and chaotic Brazil­ian Grand Prix.

Even fa­ther and for­mer racer Jos, the 19-year-old Red Bull driver’s big­gest fan and fiercest critic, was as­ton­ished.

“What Max showed here to­day was re­ally spe­cial,” he said of a race likely to go down in the sport’s an­nals as one for the ages.

In the last 15 laps, af­ter a change to ex­treme wet tyres, Ver­stap­pen passed more than half the start­ing grid as he went from 16th place to the podium.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, who caused a me­dia com­mo­tion ear­lier in the week when he rang Jos in what was in­ter­preted as a bid to warn Max off in­ter­fer­ing in the ti­tle bat­tle, was no less im­pressed.

“I didn’t call him but I met him,” Jos said when asked whether there had been another post-race phone con­ver­sa­tion. “I tell you also what he said to me and it was ‘We are rac­ing for the cham­pi­onship but to­day it was the Ver­stap­pen show.’ “I think he was right.” Think Spain 1996, a race that earned Schu­macher his ‘rain­mas­ter’ tag af­ter the Ger­man dom­i­nated in a down­pour, or Senna’s as­ton­ish­ing drive to sec­ond place in a Tole­man at a wet Monaco 1984.

Of­fered both ex­am­ples, Red Bull team prin­ci­pal Chris­tian Horner ac­cepted them.

“I think it is right up there, you’ve got to com­pare it to those great mo­ments. You don’t of­ten wit­ness a motor race like that. What we saw to­day was some­thing very, very spe­cial,” he said.

Ver­stap­pen, in his sec­ond full sea­son but a win­ner al­ready in Spain in May on his Red Bull de­but, had qual­i­fied fourth.

Once the first seven laps be­hind the safety car were done, and with the rain tip­ping down, the Dutch­man dived past Fer­rari’s 2007 world cham­pion Kimi Raikko­nen at turn one to take third place.

With the race twice stopped and re-started, Ver­stap­pen then took sec­ond from Mercedes’s cham­pi­onship leader Nico Ros­berg around the out­side on lap 32.

He saved a half-spin, and stayed ahead un­til pit­ting for in­ter­me­di­ate tyres on lap 43 – an er­ror that the team rec­ti­fied 11 laps later. From then on, it was a full-on charge back to third.

“If I had to choose be­tween sec­ond (place) and no stop, and third and all this, I would choose third,” said Jos. “Be­cause what he showed on track to­day was in­cred­i­ble.” – Reuters

BRAZIL­IAN FOR­MULA ONE GP

1. Lewis Hamil­ton (GBR/MercedesAMG), 2. Nico Ros­berg (GER/Mercedes-AMG), 3. Max Ver­stap­pen (NED/Red Bull), 4. Ser­gio Perez (MEX/Force In­dia), 5. Se­bas­tian Vet­tel (GER/Fer­rari), 6. Car­los Sainz Jr (ESP/Toro Rosso), 7. Nico Hulken­berg (GER/Force In­dia), 8. Daniel Ric­cia­rdo (AUS/Red Bull), 9. Felipe Nasr (BRA/Sauber), 10. Fer­nando Alonso ( ESP/ McLaren-Honda), 11. Valt­teri Bot­tas (FIN/Wil­liams), 12. Es­te­ban Ocon (FRA/Manor), 13. Daniil Kvyat (RUS/Toro Rosso), Kevin Mag­nussen (DEN/Re­nault), 15. Pas­cal Wehrlein ( GER/ Manor), 16. Jen­son But­ton ( GBR/McLarenHonda).

Over­all world cham­pi­onship stand­ings

1. Nico Ros­berg 367pts, 2. Lewis Hamil­ton 355, 3. Daniel Ric­cia­rdo 246, 4. Se­bas­tian Vet­tel 197, 5. Max Ver­stap­pen 192, 6. Kimi Raikko­nen 178, 7. Ser­gio Perez 97, 8. Valt­teri Bot­tas 85, 9. Nico Hülken­berg 66, 10. Fer­nando Alonso 53, 11. Felipe Massa 51, 12. Car­los Sainz Jr 46, 13. Ro­main Gros­jean 29, 14. Daniil Kvyat 25, 15. Jen­son But­ton 21, 16. Kevin Mag­nussen 7, 17. Felipe Nasr 2, 18. Jolyon Palmer 1, 19. Pas­cal Wehrlein 1, 20. Stof­fel Van­doorne 1.

1. Mercedes-AMG 722pts, 2. Red Bull 446, 3. Fer­rari 375, 4. Force In­dia 163, 5. Wil­liams 136, 6. McLaren-Honda 75, 7. Toro Rosso 63, 8. Haas 29, 9. Re­nault 8, 10. Sauber 2, 11. Manor 1.

AFPPIX

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team’s Lewis Hamil­ton (2nd-right) poses on the podium af­ter win­ning the Brazil­ian Grand Prix ahead of ti­tle ri­val and Mercedes team­mate Nico Ros­berg (left) and Red Bull Rac­ing’s Max Ver­stap­pen (right), with a Mercedes rep­re­sen­ta­tive pos­ing with them to re­ceive the tro­phy for the race’s best con­struc­tor, at the In­ter­la­gos cir­cuit in Sao Paulo yes­ter­day. –

flowed in the For­mula One pit­lane as Brazil­ian Felipe Massa hugged his fam­ily, thanked his past and present me­chan­ics and waved to the crowd af­ter crash­ing out of his home grand prix yes­ter­day. The Wil­liams driver, who will bow out in Abu Dhabi at the end of the month af­ter his 250th race, had hoped for one last hur­rah at a cir­cuit where he was twice a win­ner with Fer­rari but it was not to be.

“It was heart­break­ing,” the 35-year-old, who wrapped the na­tional flag around his shoul­ders af­ter get­ting out of the car, said of the crash at the fi­nal rain-soaked cor­ner in front of grand­stands packed with fans. When he ar­rived back at the garages, with the pit­lane closed while the field lapped be­hind the safety car, me­chan­ics from other teams came out to ap­plaud in an emo­tional trib­ute be­fore his wife and young son ar­rived.

If that was a breach of safety reg­u­la­tions, with the pit­lane again opened to cars as Massa reached the line of Fer­rari me­chan­ics, no­body cared. “I didn’t want it to fin­ish like this,” said the driver, whose last win was at the Sao Paulo cir­cuit in 2008 when he missed out on the ti­tle by a sin­gle point to Lewis Hamil­ton – the win­ner for Mercedes yes­ter­day.

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