This may not come as a surprise to some of you race fans out there, but I would like to restate this, just one more time for the masses: Max and his father Jos Verstappen are, undoubtedly, 100% the kind of passive aggressively bad people who can ruin your day just by the fact of their existence.
I could cite many a travesty here, but this article is going to specifically focus on the Mexican Grand Prix.
Please recall Max Verstappen’s stellar performance in many of the practice sessions leading up to qualifying and the race. He did a great job! He topped some sessions! Sure, his car crapped out somewhere in there, but Verstappen has easily been having The Better Season of the Red Bull teammates.
And then Daniel Ricciardo claimed pole position.
Now, folks, this season has been a rough one for ol’ Daniel. Reliability has disappeared into the void for the No. 3 team—he’s suffered a grand total of eight retirements this year, four of which have come after his decision to switch to Renault for 2019. Verstappen, on the other hand, has come away with nine podiums. The Dutchman has the upper hand here, easily.
But the big picture was a little difficult to see after last weekend’s qualifying, when Ricciardo secured pole position.
If you don’t speak Dutch, that’s okay. FoxSports.au has provided us with a handy translation:
“I was not really happy myself, but I spoke to him (Max) before bedtime. I tried to calm him down a bit, he was particularly angry because the car was out of order. That pole position is nice, but winning is of course much more important.
“He was especially annoyed by missing the pole and by the car, but also by Ricciardo. He celebrated his pole position with an exuberance as if he had become world champion. He (Max) was very angry.
“He was greatly exasperated and wanted only one thing, that was winning the race.”
Folks, there is a lot to unpack here. What do we focus on first? The mental image of a grumpy Max being tucked into bed by Jos, the latter telling him he’s the best race car driver ever? The fact that both Verstappens couldn’t handle their teammate securing a pole position—when Max went on to win the race anyway? The idea of being so mad at someone else being happy that it ruins your entire day?
Let’s step back and take a breather, boys. Let the poor Australian find some semblance of joy out of a season that feels, in his own words, ‘cursed’. It’s okay to be frustrated by missing out on a great starting position! This is racing—tensions are understandably high, especially in the last few races of the season. But, man, it ain’t that deep!
It does, however, give a little more context to why Ricciardo is leaving a team capable of winning races for one where he’s more likely to be mired in the midfield pack. His car has been suffering, yeah—but it looks like there’s plenty of animosity going on behind the scenes.
The Red Bull program is known for playing favorites, and right now, it looks like the Verstappen camp has had the cards in their favor for long enough that they feel entitled to a better performance than Ricciardo. It’s not surprising—but it certainly doesn’t do much to endear Verstappen to the fans.
H/T to Jerry Smith—you kn0w my brand very well.