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F1

19 Dec 2017

F1 2017: 5 best driver performances

(Photo credit: Jake Archibald)

Max Verstappen - China

Max Verstappen’s incredible pace in wet conditions is well documented, especially after the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix. The Dutch teenager began the second race weekend of the season on the wrong foot, struggling with an engine issue and starting down in 16th, but a lightning start got him up to seventh before the long back-straight, arguably one of the best first laps to a grand prix ever seen. The emergence of the safety car stalled the Red Bull driver’s progress for a few tours but it promoted him to fourth by the restart. 

Verstappen wasted no time dispatching Kimi Raikkonen for third, sweeping around the outside of turn one in what was a fantastic overtake. A few laps later and Max dived down the inside of Daniel Ricciardo to take second place, a monumental achievement considering the pace of his car and his starting position. No team orders, just pure racing skill. 

With the Ferraris bottled up behind Ricciardo, Verstappen and leader Lewis Hamilton pulled out a sizable lead over the rest of the field. Later in the race and with Sebastian Vettel bearing down on Verstappen for second place, the youngster made an uncharacteristic mistake, locking up and letting the German through. 

Ricciardo would challenge Verstappen for third in the latter stages of the race but the Dutchman would hold on to take a sensational podium. Don’t let the error take anything away from his performance in Shanghai, though, 16th to an appearance on the podium is nothing short of remarkable. His wins in Mexico and Malaysia were very impressive but I believe this was his tour de force.