Max Verstappen was at the center of attention during the Belgian Grand Prix. Not for being the home driver, but the first corner entanglement with the two Ferraris. Later he would pull out some aggressive defending against Kimi Raikkonen, cutting across at high speeds on the straights of Spa.
He has drawn sharp criticism from both Ferrari drivers as well as former World Champion, Jacques Villeneuve. It’s no doubt, he will be a future champion, with 32 races under his belt at the age of 18. However, his maturity and defending are now subject to sharp criticism and he has been lucky to escape serious punishment.
Has he gone too far?
Max has shown defending at both ends. Impetuous maneuvers like the one at Spa or some brilliant skills, shown at Canada.
His drive in 2015, defending the 4th place at the United States Grand Prix against Kimi Raikkonen was an impressive feat. It was voted the best drive of the year. He would hold off the Finn for his maiden win at the Spanish Grand Prix in 2016, showing his talent in a competitive machine. At the Canadian Grand Prix, he was able to hold a charging Nico Rosberg for quite a while. This is impressive, as there are long straights which would have given the Mercedes an edge over the Red bull machine.
On the other hand, he has made some questionable moves before. He had several clashes with Bottas during the European Grand Prix qualification as they qualified in the lower top 10. During the German Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg and Max Verstappen came together at the hairpin. The stewards had adjudged Rosberg to have pushed Max out of the track limit and imposed a 5-second penalty. Though it seemed Max himself hit the breaks much later, and it seemed Nico had been the one to force him off the track.
The biggest talking point has been at Spa. At the first corner of lap 1, he came turning in from on the edge of the track (and out of the limits). He bumped into Kimi who was squeezed in by Vettel from the outside as well (who would have unlikely seen Max). This ruined their races. On the Kimmel straight, he would use the DRS to cut into Kimi who would pass him. This would have been dangerous if they made contact at over 300km/hr. He did lift his throttle as well, to force Kimi to slow down.
This is not a good sign. In the post race conference, he would put the blame on the Ferrari drivers. While it does give the echoes of an Ayrton Senna interview, he is not yet a world champion. He later went on saying that both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, two world champions, should be ashamed of themselves for their drives and behavior here in Spa.
Max has been lucky to escape punishment at the Belgian Grand Prix. Max has the makings of a world champion, but does not have the right maturity to use with his aggression and driving skills yet. It would be good he learns it, before causing a serious damage. Jacques Villeneuve does believe he would end up killing someone. It would be good if that would never happen.
Many people find it difficult to understand how Max escaped a penalty in Spa and even in Hungary where he weaved multiple times in front of Kimi (again).
He still remains one of the most difficult racers to pass on circuit (example being Canada and Germany) which has made him incredible success after his move to Red Bull, but the young guy still needs to learn a lot, it is believed.