Verstappen up for high-speed gamble in Monaco

MONACO • Monaco's famed casino holds no attractions for Max Verstappen, but the 20-year-old is much more willing to take a high-speed gamble on the unforgiving streets of the principality.

Red Bull have been dominant in practice for tomorrow's showcase Grand Prix, a race that could see Verstappen line up as the youngest Formula One driver to start from pole position. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel holds that record at 21 years and 73 days.

To achieve it, the Dutchman will have to beat team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who was in commanding form on Thursday with lap records in both sessions that saw the Red Bull pair finish one-two.

Verstappen's Monaco resume is less impressive than the Australian's, and he has also been heavily criticised this term after botched overtaking manoeuvres ended his chances of winning in Shanghai.

However, he is not about to modify his style and play it safe on a street circuit that punishes the smallest of errors.

"To make the difference on this track compared to other drivers, they all think the same way, so you have to risk it a bit more between the walls," Verstappen told reporters when asked whether he would be prepared to take a punt.

But he is not a gambler in any other respect. "You go there (to the casino) to lose money... it doesn't make sense," the three-time race winner said.

Asked whether he had ever ventured inside the imposing 19th century Monaco landmark that provides a backdrop to cars racing through Casino Square, Verstappen smiled. "I won €300 (S$470) and I'm never going to go back."

Elsewhere, Ferrari were cast into the spotlight on Thursday after F1 rivals questioned the legality of their car's energy recovery system.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) has reportedly asked Ferrari to "run an extra piece of hardware" so that it could monitor the system "before making any judgments".

A Ferrari spokesman, however, said the team would not comment on media speculation.

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2018, with the headline 'Verstappen up for high-speed gamble in Monaco'. Print Edition | Subscribe