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Max Verstappen could learn a lot from Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo... but we have waited a long time to see a talent like him and should be patient

  • Daniel Ricciardo produced stunning performance to win Chinese Grand Prix
  • He carved through the field with a precise mixture of daring and patience
  • Max Verstappen, on the other hand, endured controversial race in Shanghai 
  • Perhaps Ricciardo should send a video of how to do it to younger team-mate 

Christian Horner has long claimed that his Red Bull team possess the best driver line-up on the grid. And Daniel Ricciardo stuck to his side of the equation with a brilliant win in China on Sunday, carving through the field with a precise mixture of daring and patience.

It would be tempting to say that Ricciardo should send a video of how to do it to his younger, rawer team-mate Max Verstappen, who, to many minds, showed an impulsive streak that must be mastered fast.

There is probably some truth in the suggestion that Verstappen is prone to see every chance as his last, whereas Ricciardo bides his time when necessary, weighing the next few laps and how they might unfold into his thinking.

Daniel Ricciardo performs trademark celebration by drinking from his shoe following his win

Daniel Ricciardo performs trademark celebration by drinking from his shoe following his win

Red Bull driver celebrates on the podium as Valtteri Bottas (left) and Kimi Raikkonen look on

Red Bull driver celebrates on the podium as Valtteri Bottas (left) and Kimi Raikkonen look on

But, despite those reservations about the 20-year-old Verstappen's current extravagances, I do not feel that the odd blemish undermines Horner's assertion that he would not swap his combination for any other. For example, both his drivers are superior to Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas.

I am also unwilling to put Verstappen in the stocks. We wait a long time to see a talent like his. We thrill to see his pugnacity. We delight in watching him put the wind up his rivals.

I remain confident Horner shares that tolerant view, even if he rightly curses his man's indiscretions on Sunday. He will remember how Max screwed every ounce out of his machinery the past couple of seasons when it had little to offer him. Perhaps Max has not fully recalibrated to his new situation: there is no need to stretch so far in a car that is itself more capable.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen looked to put pressure on Sebastian Vettel in a bid to get ahead

Max Verstappen's second incident of the China race saw him collide with Sebastian Vettel 

Verstappen has accepted the blame for his collision with Vettel in thrilling Chinese Grand Prix

Verstappen has accepted the blame for his collision with Vettel in thrilling Chinese Grand Prix

As Horner said: 'Daniel's in a different part of his career from Max, who is still very young and fresh and going through that experience.

'Yes, he's made some mistakes but I remember when we had Sebastian (Vettel) at a similar stage of his career, and it wasn't uncommon for him to make some mistakes. Max will have learned an awful lot from Sunday and will put that to good use in the coming races.'

Yes, perhaps shades of a young Seb — and now he's a four-time champion chasing five championships. That might make Max think.

Christian Horner has long claimed that Red Bull possess best driver line-up on the grid

Christian Horner has long claimed that Red Bull possess best driver line-up on the grid

 

Zak Brown set his alarm clock to watch events in China unfold from back home in England. But the keen-as-mustard American managed to make his voice heard from afar, and his words were quite extraordinary coming from a boss at McLaren, a traditionally big-spending team that was once devoted to high ambition.

He said: 'It is not impossible to return to the front, but it will be very difficult to compete against the top teams with the budgets they have.' It was a reference to McLaren's prospects in the current hybrid era running to the end of 2020. By when, Fernando Alonso will be 39.

So are McLaren no longer a top team? If not, is that because Brown decided to jettison its exclusive manufacturer backing, namely Honda?

And do his comments not harm his much-trumpeted, but unfulfilled, ambition to bring in the kind of major sponsors who might just elevate his budget to a level alongside the 'top teams'? 

Fernando Alonso went about his business quietly but managed to secure seventh-placed finish

Fernando Alonso went about his business quietly but managed to secure seventh-placed finish

 

Shanghai is a city of 24million and the circuit is an hour's commute away by train. Yet the vast stands were virtually desolate, some of them closed, for most of the weekend, only perking up with a larger crowd under a brighter sky on race day.

Formula One slipped in and out of the city without registering in most local minds. This despite Sunday's edition being the 15th staging of the race. It tells us that the race (like the brief Indian diversion) was not well promoted in the Bernie Ecclestone era.

Liberty Media, who hosted a fan event in town as part of a wider China-based push, real and digital, are addressing this failing as a priority. Cracking a consumer-burgeoning nation of 1.4billion is some incentive. 

The vast stands were virtually desolate, some of them closed, for most of the weekend

The vast stands were virtually desolate, some of them closed, for most of the weekend

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR celebrityrave

Journalist, writer and broadcaster, based in London and Paris, her latest book is Touché: A French Woman's Take on the English. Read more articles from Agnes.

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