Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was looking like the fastest driver on the grid in Monaco, until a crash during a practice session put an end to any hopes he might have had of qualifying first and, thus, being in the best spot to win the race.
Instead, it was his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, who ended up claiming P1, despite having to work through an MGU-K (the electric motor that provides and recovers energy) failure that left him with considerably less power than normal.
“He needs to go away from this weekend and reflect on what could have been, what should have been, and apply that for the future. He has a very good teacher in the car next door to him,” stated team boss Christian Horner, as reported by Autosport.
“Max has an abundance of talent. He’s had some harsh lessons, obviously, this year and I think a modified approach will benefit him. What’s frustrating is that he’s working harder than ever. He feels fitter than ever and it feels like he’s trying a bit too hard. When you get into a spiral you try harder. You have to hit the reset button.”
In Monaco, Verstappen managed to race all the way up to ninth place, salvaging two points. The end result, however, could have been massively different had he not made contact with the wall.
The 2018 Formula 1 season has so far seen Verstappen make six different mistakes. In Australia, he spun during the race and finished P6. In Bahrain he collided with Hamilton and retired. Then, in China he crashed into Vettel and finished P5, after which he collided with his teammate Daniel Ricciardo in Azerbaijan and had to retire. And before his FP3 crash in Monaco, he also made contact with Stroll in Spain.
“I just hope he’ll start to really think about it. He needs to change his approach, it’s too much and it’s costing him so much,” 2016 F1 world champion Nico Rosberg remarked.
As for how Verstappen feels about it, after the race in Monaco he said he felt like he drove very cautiously.
“I didn’t want to go too risky and have a crash. I think I did everything with a certain margin. I know very well what went wrong and what needs to go better. In this instance, it’s ‘don’t touch the wall. Of course, these are not nice moments to learn from. But sometimes you do need to have these.”
Currently, Verstappen is sixth in the Drivers Standings with 35 points, which is less than half of Ricciardo’s point tally. Since in F1 your fiercest opponent is always your team mate, because he drives the same car as you, this doesn’t paint a very flattering image for the fast, but error-prone, driver.