Verstappen is focus of attention
THE great and good of Formula One have rounded on Max Verstappen after the Dutchman’s banzai driving took centre stage again following a dramatic Chinese Grand Prix.
Despite Daniel Ricciardo pulling off a Red Bull tactical masterstroke to secure a quite remarkable win, it was the aggressive tactics deployed by his hot-headed teammate which dominated the paddock discourse for a second weekend in succession.
Seven days ago in Bahrain, Verstappen collided with Lewis Hamilton, but in Shanghai, it was the Brit’s championship rival Sebastian Vettel who would feel the full force of the brilliant, yet exuberant Dutchman.
Hamilton escaped without damage to his Mercedes car last week, but the same could not be said for Vettel and his Ferrari here.
The German, who was second at the time of their coming together – during a frenetic finale sparked by the deployment of a safety car – limped over the line in eighth.
It enabled Hamilton, himself fortunate to finish fourth after a self-proclaimed disastrous weekend, to reduce the gap in the drivers’ championship from 17 to only nine points.
Verstappen and Ricciardo had carved their way to the top after an inspired gamble by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner to haul both of his drivers in for fresh tyres after Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly tangled and the safety car was sent out.
It provided both men with the advantage of quicker, fresher tyres than their rivals, but as Ricciardo excelled in picking off Kimi Raikkonen, Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in an overtaking masterclass, Verstappen faltered. ■■Huddersfield racer Tom Sykes had a disappointing meeting in the third round of the World Superbikes Championship.
The 32-year-old, who was world champion in 2013, managed two sixth place finishes at Aragon’s Motorland circuit.
In the World Supersport series, Fenay Bridge rider Kyle Smith, who is now based in Spain, notched an encouraging fifth place after a tough start to the new campaign.