MAX Verstappen concedes he needs to go back and analyse the errors in judgment that cost him a potential win in the Chinese Grand Prix.
While Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo made a succession of moves with surgical precision to take the victory, Verstappen’s attempts were much the opposite.
First he slid wide while trying to round up Lewis Hamilton, allowing Ricciardo past.
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Then a couple of laps later he clattered into the side of world championship leader Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari, causing them both to spin.
“That was just bad,” said former F1 champion Nico Rosberg of the incident. “Really bad and unnecessary.”
The mistake drew a 10-second time penalty that dropped Verstappen from fourth to fifth, while Vettel slipped down to eighth after a forceful pass from Fernando Alonso a couple of laps from home.
The two Red Bulls were both armed with fresh tyres, Verstappen’s advantage such that he was still rapidly closing on Vettel despite his earlier off-track moment.
“I could see him struggling on the tyres,” Verstappen explained.
“I tried to brake late in the corner, and locked the rears a bit and hit him.
“That was of course my fault. It’s not what you want and it’s easy to say afterwards that I should have waited … probably would’ve been the best idea.”
The incident comes just a week after his controversial contact with Hamilton during the Bahrain Grand Prix, one which caused a puncture that put him out of the race.
While Verstappen doesn’t believe he needs to necessarily ditch his aggressive approach to passing, he is going to analyse the mistakes he made during the Chinese GP.
“At the moment it’s not going the way I like of course, but does it really mean I have to calm down? I don’t think so,” he said.
“It’s just very unfortunate, those things happening. I just need to analyse everything and try to come back stronger for the next race.”
VETTEL: HE’S NOT A YOUNG DRIVER ANYMORE
Vettel and Verstappen had a brief, cordial chat in the paddock immediately after the race about the incident, the four-time world champion adopting a philosophical view on a clash that cost him a bagful of championship points.
“To be honest I was expecting him to come earlier,” Vettel said.
“I had no intention to resist, because it was clear, with Daniel as well, that there was no point in doing so. They were just too fast on the fresh tyres so I didn’t want to compromise my race to the guys behind.
“I didn’t see him until very late so I left a bit of room as well.
“He obviously did a mistake, he locked up, which happens. We had a tailwind down the straight the whole race. I guess he misjudged and sort of compromised both of our result.
“He’s not a young driver any more, he’s done enough races. But again this can happen to you also if you’ve done 300 races.
“Inside the car, you mustn’t forget that these judgments are difficult to make. But you ultimately you have to have these things in mind and make sure you don’t crash.
“I mean he could have taken his front wing off, had a puncture, whatever, then it’s game over for both of us.
“Obviously we’re both lucky, but that’s how it goes.”