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2017 F1 Driver Review: Max Verstappen

By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief

Motorsports Tribune reviews the top 10 Formula 1 drivers of 2017. Our list continues with sixth place finisher Max Verstappen.

Max Verstappen, No. 33 Red Bull Racing

  • 2017: 6th in the championship, 168 points
  • Wins: 2, Podiums: 4, Top 5: 12, Top 10: 13, Poles: 0, Laps Led: 133 , Fastest Laps: 1, 
  • Best Finish: 1st – Two times (Malaysia, Mexico)

Max Verstappen endured one of the tougher outings in 2017, as strong outings were also countered by gut-wrenching reliability woes.

The 20-year-old Dutchman was solid out of the gate in Australia with a fifth-place result and followed it up a third-place finish in China. However, the wheels to the season began to fall off at the next race in Bahrain as early brake failure left him with his first DNF (did not finish) on the year.

In fact, the podium result achieved in the second race of the year looked to be the peek of the season for the Red Bull Racing driver as he amassed seven retirements over the first 14 events. Through this process, many began to question if this widely considered once-in-a-generation talent was a bust or running his RB13 ragged to the point of breaking.

The final breaking point came at a wet Singapore Grand Prix, in which Verstappen was part of an opening start crash with pole sitter Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Although it was yet another tough result at a circuit that catered to the Red Bull chassis, it also proved to be the end of the dark cloud that loomed over Verstappen.

The next round in Malaysia featured a return to form and saw Verstappen shine to his first win of the season, albeit quietly as he beat eventual F1 champion Lewis Hamilton by over a stout 12 seconds. He managed to back up the result with a runner-up finish at the next round in Japan.

For as dominant as he was in Malaysia, Verstappen was even more so in Mexico. Although many eyes were on Hamilton as he clinched his fourth championship, Verstappen took it to the field, winning by 19.678 seconds over Valtteri Bottas.

The year ended with a pair of fifth-place finishes in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, but ultimately reiterated that Verstappen is more than capable of pushing the likes of Hamilton and Vettel should reliability never be a question moving forward.

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Joey Barnes is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Motorsports Tribune. He has covered auto racing since 2013 that has spanned from Formula 1 to NASCAR, with coverage on IndyCar. Additionally, his work has appeared on Racer, IndyCar.com and Autoweek magazine. In 2017, he was recognized with an award in Spot News Writing by the National Motorsports Press Association.