Verstappen’s Stall Highlights Inequality Issues in Formula One

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Max Verstappen made his breakthrough in the 2016 season when he became the youngest driver to win a Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver – then 18 – made history at the Spanish Grand Prix with an outstanding drive in his first outing for the team.

The Dutchman also became the youngest man to claim a podium finish and lead a lap of a Grand Prix, highlighting the rarity of his feat, breaking Sebastian Vettel’s records.

Verstappen performed strongly for the rest of the 2016 season, finishing in fifth place in the overall standings for the Drivers’ Championship, despite starting the campaign with Toro Rosso.

He was expected to kick on this term to notch further wins under his belt, but the resurgence of Ferrari at the top of the sport to challenge Mercedes’ dominance has left the Dutchman and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo wanting.

Verstappen faces a huge task to turn his fortunes around in the remaining races of the campaign, with the 19-year-old being backed in the latest F1 betting odds at 250/1 to win the title this term.

The Dutchman has beaten the odds before, but even this challenge may be too far for him to achieve, although he has displayed the propensity to be clinical when an opportunity presents itself.

At the Spanish Grand Prix last year in his first outing with Red Bull, Verstappen secured fourth place on the grid following a solid qualifying session.
He then capitalised on a collision between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to move to the front of the field and beat out Ferrari duo Kimi Raikkonen and Vettel along with his team-mate Ricciardo.

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The Dutchman continued to fare well in the rest of the campaign, building on his effort in Madrid with second-place finishes in back-to-back meets at the Austrian and British Grand Prixs.
Four more podiums continued his momentum towards the end of the season, with the Dutchman displaying maturity and skill beyond his years.

This included another spell of back-to-back second-place finishes in Malaysia and Japan, allowing him to end the term just eight points off the pace of Vettel in the Drivers’ Championship.

As a result, Verstappen would have been confident of making an impact in the race for the title at the start of the year, especially with the retirement of Rosberg.

However, Ferrari have made drastic improvements to their vehicle for the term, which has seen Vettel becoming the challenger to Mercedes’ dominance of the sport.

Verstappen has been frustrated with issues with his car as he was forced to retire in Bahrain due to brake failure, while his return to the site of his maiden success proved to be an unhappy stay as he and Raikkonen were caught in a collision with Valtteri Bottas that forced him out in lap one.

The four results he has recorded this term have been solid, with a third-place finish in China to go with his three fifth-place finishes. Performing well on a consistent basis is a testament to his character, but he has not produced the displays that will propel him into the upper echelon of drivers.

Verstappen will look with envy at the situations of Vettel and Hamilton, although he has been touted with a move to Ferrari in the future – that could see him become a perennial contender for the crown.

However, he has a long way to go to prove that he would be worthy of the move, with the need for stronger performances to test Hamilton and Vettel at the top of the standings from now until the end of the campaign.