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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2019 7:16 pm 
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Rewind two years, and we began the 2017 with the news the 'Verstappen rule' was being dropped. At the tail of 2016 the FIA stewards had issues clarifications dubbed the 'Verstappen rule' regarding car movements he was making during overtaking and defence.

Hamilton was often critical of him, Vettel was often having on track incidents with him and over the next two seasons, as Max became established in the Red Bull, and the Red Bull became more competitive he became the front runner that attracted the most controversy and when they encountered him on tract the title contenders would try to give him more space than a smelly person on the bus.

Vettel in particular, seemed as if Max had got in his head.

However, this weekend, not once but twice, Vettel put manners on Verstappen - first in qualifying, and then again in the race during his defence. These were both highly assertive, but also supremely confident, unlike the narrative we had seen over the previous two seasons.

So the question is, has Max lost that psychological edge he had on track? And if so, what's caused it?


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2019 7:31 pm 
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In order to separate my opinion on the top from the question, so people can reply independently, I decided to include my theory in a separate post - as follows:

Yes, I do think that Max has lost the fear factor he previous had, and I think there are a number of reasons for it.

There are the obvious reasons: he's more developed as a driver now, he's more mature, people have been fighting him for three years they know better what to expect. However I also think there is a more fundamental reason.

Max is now the undisputed team leader at Red Bull.

This has several knock on effects. The first is that when he was the maverick, you upstart, joining more experienced Daniel Ricciardo, even though he would have believed he was better and faster than Ricciardo, the age difference, and his longer time spent established at the team, would have meant Ricciardo was seen as the senior driver at the team.

Although Gasly is of the same generation as Max, Max has three seasons at Red Bull, multiple race winner, and is pretty much unanimously viewed as a WDC contender of the future. He's now the driver people look to in Red Bull, and even a maverick like Max will feel that responsibility. And even if he gives no signs of it, both Hamilton and Vettel - having been in that position themselves - will know that he's under it.

A lot of Max's psychology came from the fact he had nothing to lose. As he was not a championship contender, but fighting the championship contenders on track, he knew they had nothing to lose and they would play the percentages and back out if it was going to be too close. It was a method that worked until Brazil, when he found himself on the other side of that equation.

Whether Ocon was in the right or the wrong is irrelevant - at the point they made contact Max was the one with something to lose whereas Ocon had nothing. Max lost his race win for not realising that, and he's probably reflected upon that.

While I don't think that Max has lost his edgy nature completely, I think that he's definitely taken on the mantle of team leader, and as a result the field as no longer as wary of him when they bang wheels on track.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:33 pm 
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Good thesis and observations. Well done Alienturnedhuman!

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:59 pm 
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I think he's just improved. So far this season he is doing something a lot of people said he couldn't do. Packing away points. He's almost having an Alonsoesque season thus far.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:28 pm 
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Happens with every driver. When Hamilton came to the scene, he used to very aggressively overtake. It was his thing, and drivers simply moved out of the way. It stopped happening about 3 years into his career.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:35 pm 
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I should maybe clarify. This post is more about the other drivers than Max. Obviously he is improving, like any driver at the start of their F1 career will. This thread is about how other drivers react and deal with him on track.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:58 pm 
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I did feel that Vettel was quite aggressive with Max but I think that's more about Vettel than it is Max. I think Vettel wasn't messing around about keeping that position and he had enough trust in Max to be on the limit in his defense.

Overall though, I think Max is maturing as a driver. I think he has maximized what that car can do so far this year and has taken home as many points as is possible. The interesting thing with Max is that there is now someone his age who has come into the sport in Leclerc, who is already in a better car than him. I think Max will need to have a long think about joining the likes of Mercedes or Ferrari. I'm not saying that I don't have faith in Red Bull getting back to the front but if Max goes another year or two in this same position, that will be a year or two wasted IMO.

I suppose he's young enough to be patient and I know he has plenty of time but I think Charles's presence changes the equation. It's a bit like when Vettel emerged shortly after Hamilton and then found himself in the better car for 5 years running. The difference is that Hamilton had already won a championship. Charles is standing in the way of Max's first. I think that Max has transitioned from thinking of himself as a future champion to really focusing on the now. He's ready to fight for championships now and it's really just down to the car. The other drivers can trust him more out there now because he is obviously a bit more mature and a bit more conscientious out there.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2019 10:19 pm 
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He is just growing up a bit. It was always going to happen.

He has the speed, but (evidence to now) never had the maturity, mentality or patience to be a truely top tier driver.

People tend to become more patient and cerebal as they mature. Max will be a better driver when he loses the arrogance of youth.

I think he has realised its better to lose a place/not make the all costs overtake, than get away with these 3/4, but have a race ruined the other 1/4.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 2:53 am 
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Sebastian Vettel's take on the overtake attempt today by Max.

From ESPN
Quote:
Sebastian Vettel said the key to keeping Max Verstappen at bay during the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday was understanding the Red Bull driver's mindset around overtaking.

Vettel and Verstappen went wheel-to-wheel shortly after their first pit stop, with Verstappen lunging from a long way back to attempt to out-brake the Ferrari at the hairpin at the end of the circuit. Verstappen ran deep and Vettel was able to switch back to the inside on the exit, getting back alongside the Dutchman and holding firm on the approach to the final corner to keep third position.

Because Vettel knew Verstappen would try a move as soon as he had a sniff at overtaking, the four-time world champion felt he was able to force him into an unnatural line through the corner.

"I saw him coming and the speed delta at the end of the straights is quite big now," said Vettel."Knowing Max as well as I do I knew that he will try. I was sort of predicting that he will try and go down the inside and I tried to cut back, and it worked. I had a bit of a moment, I had to open the car a bit, but it was good.

"I could nearly get a car length ahead of him and the angle into the last corner for him wasn't very sexy. It was good fun but we would have loved to be a bit faster."


So yeah, Max has lost his fear factor and drivers like Seb will be able to predict his antics, and sucker him into mistakes.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 6:12 am 
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Mort Canard wrote:
Sebastian Vettel's take on the overtake attempt today by Max.

From ESPN
Quote:
Sebastian Vettel said the key to keeping Max Verstappen at bay during the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday was understanding the Red Bull driver's mindset around overtaking.[color=#FF0000][/color]

Vettel and Verstappen went wheel-to-wheel shortly after their first pit stop, with Verstappen lunging from a long way back to attempt to out-brake the Ferrari at the hairpin at the end of the circuit. Verstappen ran deep and Vettel was able to switch back to the inside on the exit, getting back alongside the Dutchman and holding firm on the approach to the final corner to keep third position.

Because Vettel knew Verstappen would try a move as soon as he had a sniff at overtaking, the four-time world champion felt he was able to force him into an unnatural line through the corner.

"I saw him coming and the speed delta at the end of the straights is quite big now," said Vettel."Knowing Max as well as I do I knew that he will try. I was sort of predicting that he will try and go down the inside and I tried to cut back, and it worked. I had a bit of a moment, I had to open the car a bit, but it was good.

"I could nearly get a car length ahead of him and the angle into the last corner for him wasn't very sexy. It was good fun but we would have loved to be a bit faster."


So yeah, Max has lost his fear factor and drivers like Seb will be able to predict his antics, and sucker him into mistakee.


Even thought I believe Vettel, and think this is quite good for his self confidence. I think he is sort of forgetting that he was nearly overtaken by a car that is nowhere near the speed of his. He put in an awesome defense, but had he not, he would have looked rather silly.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 6:19 am 
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StanB123 wrote:
Even thought I believe Vettel, and think this is quite good for his self confidence. I think he is sort of forgetting that he was nearly overtaken by a car that is nowhere near the speed of his. He put in an awesome defense, but had he not, he would have looked rather silly.

Why do you think the RBR was nowhere near the pace of the Ferrari? Max was only a tiny bit off in qualifying, and was racing both Ferraris pretty much throughout the GP. He was a little slower overall, but not 'nowhere near' levels of slower. I'd say for this weekend, the RBR was closer to the Ferrari than the Ferrari was to the Mercedes.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:43 am 
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So a few races in and Max has lost his fear factor? Okay. A bit fickle I would say.

Max is probably a bit heart broken considering RBR hasn't really got the pace at the moment to win a race - not unless something changes or track specific.

Sooner or later some one will make a mistake and underestimate Max to cause an accident. I remember last year when Lewis was a touch cautious with Max but Max being himself ended up clipping with a car that wasn't even racing him.. losing the victory. Max is still very young and to think he has lost his fear factor is ridiculous. As time goes by and RBR/Max don't challenge for the title, they will become more aggressive in their strategy and racing - like last season.

It was only five minutes ago people said Lewis had lost it and Bottas is rejuvenated..... now that changed with Lewis winning 2/3 races.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:01 am 
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The OP only names Hamilton and Vettel, both drivers who had something to lose when overtaking Verstappen, or defending against him. Verstappen himself had nothing to lose, except team preference for him. The main outside factor for him, I think, is that his team is now partnered with Honda. Cleaning his act up after seeing Ricciardo off is therefore now doubly important. I would be surprised if other drivers hadn't included this in their mental profile of him. But I also believe the team will have spoken to him rather more harshly, than they do when the cameras/radios are on them.

As for other drivers, I think that if he were to have to start from the back, few would be interested in having an accident with him, and more or less facilitate his return to the front. It worked in the days of Schumacher, and I believe him to be Verstappen's model.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:04 am 
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Teddy007 wrote:
So a few races in and Max has lost his fear factor? Okay. A bit fickle I would say.

Max is probably a bit heart broken considering RBR hasn't really got the pace at the moment to win a race - not unless something changes or track specific.

Sooner or later some one will make a mistake and underestimate Max to cause an accident. I remember last year when Lewis was a touch cautious with Max but Max being himself ended up clipping with a car that wasn't even racing him.. losing the victory. Max is still very young and to think he has lost his fear factor is ridiculous. As time goes by and RBR/Max don't challenge for the title, they will become more aggressive in their strategy and racing - like last season.

It was only five minutes ago people said Lewis had lost it and Bottas is rejuvenated..... now that changed with Lewis winning 2/3 races.

I'd agree with you about people being a bit fickle. Seems to change every race.

I think realistically Max should have mentally prepared himself for the fact that this year might be a building one. After all, they've just started with Honda, who haven't exactly set the world alight just yet. But it does look like Red Bull have taken a step backwards with this year's chassis, too. Hopefully they will be able to turn that around soon but I think Max should probably be a little relieved that the Honda is looking a little more competitive than it may have done. They certainly don't look any worse than the Renault at this stage so they just need to focus on the chassis, and you'd usually bank on Red Bull to get that right eventually


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:13 pm 
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I am not sure how I can explain this better, but for the second time this is not about a change in Max - it's about the other drivers.

It's a bit like if I had said "Have spiders lost their fear factor?" because last year all of the drivers were terrified of spiders but now they know to trap them in a glass and throw them out the window. The spiders haven't changed, but the drivers who interact with them have done.

The way that Vettel interacted with Max on track in Shanghai, both in qualifying and the race, was completely different to how he has done over the previous 3 seasons. The quotes in the ESPN article has Vettel's own words supporting that theory.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:35 pm 
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Alienturnedhuman wrote:
I am not sure how I can explain this better, but for the second time this is not about a change in Max - it's about the other drivers.

It's a bit like if I had said "Have spiders lost their fear factor?" because last year all of the drivers were terrified of spiders but now they know to trap them in a glass and throw them out the window. The spiders haven't changed, but the drivers who interact with them have done.

The way that Vettel interacted with Max on track in Shanghai, both in qualifying and the race, was completely different to how he has done over the previous 3 seasons. The quotes in the ESPN article has Vettel's own words supporting that theory.


I think for the brighter drivers then probably. Max has been around long enough for a driver like Vettel who has raced him often to work out his traits and Vettel was able to second guess him.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:45 pm 
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I don't see evidence of any change, personally. Shanghai qualifying was Max not paying proper attention to the times so he forced other drivers to take action. I don't think it shows that they treat him differently, just that they didn't want to miss out on a run. And then it was a domino effect.

In the race Vettel pushed Max wide. I think he did that because he knew that if he didn't Max would come back at him and he needed to put him off. Again, a specific circumstance and doesn't to my mind show that Max is being treated any differently.


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