Verstappen draws comparisons with the F1 greats
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.
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.