Is Verstappen vs Sainz the new Rosberg vs Hamilton?

There were some unknowns heading into the Australian GP and one of those was the sheer pace of the Mercedes. We think we have a better idea but not a conclusive one as Ferrari fared well even though they stumbled on strategy.

The second question was centered on the Mercedes drivers and if Nico Rosberg would continue his 3-race winning streak from last season as well as the re-focused Lewis Hamilton starting his 4th championship bid. There were even stories of Mercedes telling their drivers that there were to be no team orders in 2016 and many felt that was a license to fight hard against each other which Rosberg promptly did at turn one in Australia.

While the world waited to see who would come out on top of the Mercedes duel in Albert Park, they heard an apology from Rosberg about his shove in turn one but they also heard a lot more.

The radio was ripe with shouting and frustration from the 18-year-old Plucky Teen Max Verstappen and how he was furious he wasn’t pitted first and how Carlos Sainz was holding him up. Fans got to hear another side of Verstappen and the result has been…well, somewhat mixed. Hey, that’s why we call him “Plucky”.

Max sounded the spoiled child when things weren’t going his way and he couldn’t get around Sainz to make a serious charge after Renault’s Jolyon Palmer. After both drivers finally made it past the Renault, they set their sights on Williams F1 driver Valtteri Bottas but were unable to make it happen.

Verstappen was all over the back of Sainz and in one daring move, touched the back of the Spaniard’s car damaging Max’s front wing. Verstappne was furious on the radio calling it a “joke” and saying that he was faster and that the team needed to do something.

The team did do something, they radioed Sainz, who had passed a lot of cars during the course of the race, and told him to push. The reply was that he was pushing as hard as he could.

In many ways these two drivers sound as if they are heading toward the same intra-team duel and controversy as Hamilton and Rosberg…maybe even more intense. Both are vying for a seat at the big table in the form of a Red Bull Racing ride and both are keen to prove they are better than the other and more capable.

Sainz had his share of mechanical DNF’s last year but when he was running, there was very little between them. Max, for his part, was the rookie of the year and there’s a good reason for that to be honest.

Some have been critical of Sainz but I’m not. I have taken heat for defending personalities such as Schumacher, Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton and now Verstappen. There is a common thread amongst them and while others were unhappy with the plight of Barrichello, sitting still during a double-stacked pit stop to delay a teammate, the Multi- 21 debacle or the shoving around of Nico, these are drivers who are ruthless in their pursuit of one thing—world championships. The amount of flack I took for defending Vettel’s Multi 21 incident is legendary but he was never at Red Bull to play wet nurse to Webber. Max isn’t at Toro Rosso to coddle Sainz or vice versa. You can tell Max is here to win. He desperately wants to finish in places that Toro Rosso has no business finishing in. That’s the mark of a champion and those before him have done just that.

It isn’t pleasant sometimes but it is who they are. The Schumacher chop or Barrichello shove, the Alonso clause (as we call it) or the sign language for insane in Turkey. They are here to win, they are here to make a stamp on F1 and every one of the drivers I mentioned have done just that. What Sainz does now could mean the difference between being a Hamilton or a Rosberg and this year, Rosberg needs to be more Max than Carlos himself.

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Tom Firth

No. It’s not going to become that, because the championship title pressure isn’t present, and a lot could happen to either in the years before that becomes a point, but it is going to be a strong inter-team rivalry between the two, probably one of the most strongest we have seen in quite a while. I think part of it is that whilst we got a very good talent in Verstappen, not a crazy crash happy teenager like some anticipated, he’s still very young and very raw talent, and despite Sainz having more junior formula experience, and a wiser head… Read more »

Tom Firth

Max this weekend really reminded me of Max at Imola in F3, he’s quick, he’s spectacularly talented but think the weekend served as a reminder that he is still young, and he still gets frustrated and argumentative like anyone his age, and does still have moments of red mist. He’s mature most the time but it does show on occasions, like this weekend.

Paul KieferJr

I don’t think this is the same. From what I’ve heard so far, it’s different in personalities.


Almost agree with every word. Except for the childish part. Remember the rage from Vettel (clash with Webber and both went off and a couple of more) or the many hand gestures in many races from Senna, no audio I am afraid, but I bet that the radiocommunications where not very polite. Never has been said, that that was childish. Age isn’t relevant now nor then. PR creates a inrealistic image of these top atletes and the things we do reconize, anger or other emotions, in other words normal human reactions, like you and I have, we see that as… Read more »

Negative Camber

I don’t think that, that was what I have read from folks on Twitter. That he was being childish. I think he was just impatient and pissed. :)

Tom Firth

Not sure childish is the right word either, maturity perhaps though, which will come in age. Can kind of see the link.


There is no other word for his behaviour but childish. It cant be described as anything else. While many drivers have vented their frustrations with a snide remark here and there, never has it been so ongoing and still throwing a tantrum long after he got out of the car. Should there be allowances made because of his age? No this is a premier racing category and no place for such immature carry ons. And its not the first time either. His little twitter rants last Monaco spring to mind.


How about “emotionally immature”? Okay, you’re right, that’s two words. ;-)


The funny thing is, when you describe this as childsh. You are also saying that for almost all the drivers. What is the difference between the rage of i.e. Vettel, Senna or other drivers in comparison with this? They all wonna win and if you look them up on you tube, or hopefully have watched a lot of older f1 seasons, you find simular and even way harder outings as this. So stating this as something that is typically for Max, is not a strong argument. Besides that, we think that what the PR is saying, is the truth. We… Read more »


I agree that Max isn’t childish. All the greats gave that same personality. They have that drive to be better than everyone else and know they are better. I think Max wants to show RBR he can be like Vettel a world champion. This inter team battle will be awesome to see

jiji the cat

Maybe Sainz wants to show the same. I actually rate him highly. Sainz that is.

jiji the cat

Didn’t max refuse to yield last year for Sainz at some race, can’t remember which?


Singapore springs to mind, but it may have been more than once.

Andreas Möller

There sure was some entertainment on the team radio this time… :-) First, Max scolded his team for not being ready for hit pit stop – which, as I understand it, he simply informed the team he’d be doing and then promptly entered the pits. Then, when Sainz was struggling to get around Palmer, Max repeatedly asked the team if he could pass Sainz to have a go, a question that was equally repeatedly answered with a short “yes”. Which I understood to mean “sure, go ahead and pass if you can”, while possibly, Max interpreted it as “yes, we’ll… Read more »


I have the same view. Love the emotions in this sport. :-)

Dr T

Sainz is one of 21 other cars on the track Max. Unfortunately you weren’t good enough to get past him… sorry.

Better luck next round


I wonder how common these types of outburst are from drivers and team mates? We only get to hear the radio comments that the broadcasters relay. For all we know many of the drivers rant to their team about every perceived slight or adverse decision.
That said, broadcasting Max’s outbursts have shown him in a really poor light, hopefully he’ll take some pointers from ‘ more mature’ drivers like Kimi, Jenson and even Carlos ;-)