Mad max's approach off track once more

Dutchman crashes again, Ricciardo tops first practice session as Vettel struggles for pace

•BAKU (Azerbaijan) • Max Verstappen's all-or-nothing approach cost him dearly in the first practice session of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix yesterday.

The Red Bull driver, who has been involved in major incidents in all three previous races this season, lost control and hit the barriers in the opening session and then compounded his problems by sliding off the track early in the second.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, the world championship leader, finished P2 in 11th position.

But Verstappen will continue to push his car to its limits, despite his costly collision with Vettel in China two weeks ago. He blew a potential podium after a rash attempt to pass the four-time world champion in spite of having fresher tyres.

He also botched a move on Mercedes' reigning champion Lewis Hamilton and ended up finishing fifth due to a 10-second penalty.

"Nobody is perfect," Verstappen told reporters ahead of tomorrow's Azerbaijan Grand Prix, a race won last year by his Australian team-mate Daniel Ricciardo - who also triumphed in Shanghai.

"I am very happy to listen and also improve like everyone else. These situations just make you a better driver at the end of the day.

"You learn from yourself and that doesn't mean you have to drive slower, it actually means you have to drive faster. But maybe with a little bit in control," the 20-year-old Dutchman added.

The eighth-placed driver on this year's championship leaderboard is seen as a future world champion, having already won three Grands Prix, but he has also been advised to calm down by current and former drivers including his father and former F1 driver Jos.

Verstappen Sr said after Shanghai that he did not want his son to change his style, but rather have it under control and urged him to think more.

And Verstappen, who has scored just 18 points from three races so far this year, took Jos' criticism of his recent racing incidents on board, blaming himself for "wanting the victory too much".

"My dad is the hardest critic of everyone in the whole world, so if I can handle him, I can handle anyone," he said.

Verstappen added that he had discussed matters with Red Bull's motorsport consultant Helmut Marko to fine-tune his aggressive approach to races.

The fundamental approach remained the same, however.

"To just slow yourself down, just to not do anything and drive around, I'm not like that, I'm not here to fill up the field," said Verstappen, who scored more points than any driver other than Hamilton in the last six races of 2017.

"In general, the whole season pace-wise I have been good, the results have not been there yet, but there have been only three races so far and 18 to go."



GP Practice 3 & qualifying Singtel TV Ch114 & StarHub Ch208, 5.55pm & 8.30pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2018, with the headline 'Mad max's approach off track once more'. Print Edition | Subscribe