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Max Verstappen

The day Verstappen went too far - and got taught a lesson

The 2018 Chinese Grand Prix was a stern learning lesson for Max Verstappen.

Verstappen Vettel China 2018
Throwback
To news overview © XPBimages

Max Verstappen's early 2018 was a prime example of a driver learning on the job as the fourth-year driver had a messy start to the campaign.

In the Australia opener, he spun in the early stages, whilst contact with Lewis Hamilton in Bahrain ended his evening early.

After China, he would collide with Daniel Ricciardo in the sister Red Bull in Azerbaijan, with Lance Stroll under the Safety Car in Spain before wrecking his Monaco weekend with a hefty crash in free practice 3 ruling him out of qualifying.

The rough diamond then settled down, but of that run of incidents, it was a scrappy, messy Chinese Grand Prix that cost Verstappen the most - a race win.

The 2018 Chinese Grand Prix

The grid in Shanghai was a Ferrari-Mercedes-Red Bull Noah's Ark with Sebastian Vettel on pole from Kimi Raikkonen, Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton, Verstappen and Ricciardo.

At lights out, Vettel maintained the lead as Verstappen scythed through and up to third passing the slow-starting Raikkonen and Hamilton with Bottas up to second.

When it came to the pit-stops, Bottas undercut Vettel on Lap 21 to take the net lead as Raikkonen was hung out to dry with the Finn leading the German with Verstappen third ahead of Hamilton and Ricciardo.

But on Lap 30, the Toro Rossos of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley collided at the hairpin, triggering the Safety Car for debris.

The fortunate timing of the Safety Car allowed both Red Bulls to double-stack for fresh tyres as the other four leading drivers stayed out.

The race then turned into a 21-lap sprint with both Red Bulls on fresh Soft tyres compared to the rest on Hards with Verstappen fourth and Ricciardo sixth.

On Lap 39, three laps after the restart, Verstappen attempted a move around the outside of Hamilton through the long-left handed sweeper of Turn 7. Ever the grizzled five-time world champion veteran, Hamilton simply opened the steering and forced Verstappen wide into the run-off.

It allowed Ricciardo through, and the Australian quickly went on a charge, divebombing Hamilton into the hairpin for third, Vettel for second and mugged Bottas for the lead at Turn 6.

As for Verstappen, he quickly regrouped and finally passed Hamilton but on Lap 43, when a podium was within reach, he clattered into Vettel in a move that was never going be pulled off.

He copped a 10-second time penalty for the crash, as a bemused Vettel brought his wounded car home in eighth.

Ricciardo won from Bottas and Raikkonen with Hamilton fourth, Verstappen fifth.

In both incidents, Verstappen had a superior tyre advantage over both Hamilton and Vettel, and cost himself a race win. But those were the mistakes of a driver still maturing, and errors that have gone into building the unstoppable machine that crushes F1 today.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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