Verstappen earns plaudits for Japan and Singapore performances

2015 Japanese Grand Prix Driver of the Weekend result

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Max Verstappen was the stand-out driver over the last two race weekends according to F1 Fanatic readers.

The Toro Rosso driver, who turned 18 last week, topped the Japanese Grand Prix Driver of the Weekend poll and was runner-up in the Singapore poll too.

However Sebastian Vettel was comfortably voted the Driver of the Weekend after his Singapore victory.

Sebastian Vettel’s Singapore Grand Prix

2013 flashback? Vettel was in crushing form in Singapore
Vettel didn’t get off to the best of starts in Singapore. He was outpaced by team mate Raikkonen throughout Friday’s two practice sessions, yet as the weekend unfolded – and it became clear Mercedes were severely lacking pace – he became a firm favourite.

Third practice went his way by nearly half a second, and advantage that never looked like being troubled throughout qualifying, as Vettel eased to his first ever Ferrari pole position. The race pace from Red Bull looked strong during practice, and Ricciardo posed a threat, but two Safety Car periods towards the end of the stints – when Vettel looked most vulnerable – protected him, and ensured him his third win of the season.

Vettel’s 56.7% of the vote was nearly 30% more than any other driver received. Verstappen’s recovery run from a lap down to into the points impressed many – as did his disregard for Toro Rosso’s team orders – and he took the second-largest share of the votes. The two Mercedes drivers picked up just ten votes between them after one of the team’s worst performances since 2013.

Simply for having the courage to go for the better time in Q3 even with a guaranteed first place and smashing others comprehensively and for leading the race from start to finish.

The first lap was a stunner as well, gaining three seconds and effectively killing off any chance that Ricciardo had when DRS was enabled. So was the sudden dip (two seconds) before the pit window.

All race long, he was driving a controlled race and was at times a second faster than the second Ferrari. That is domination in any dictionary. If Ferrari can keep up this pace for the rest of the year and if Mercedes suffer any reliability problems, the drivers’ championship is still game on.

If ever a designer wanted motivation to build a better car for the driver, he must see his pole lap. Was astounded and I still am.

He was not only fast but planned the race brilliantly.

In the first stint, he was aware of the threat from Ricciardo’s Red Bull with its better chassis and tyre saving setup. So he sprinted away and then held station, ready to adjust for whichever strategy Red Bull used. After the first Safety Car intervention and enforced tyre change, he used a different tactic to beep Ricciardo at bay, this time saving his tyres for a while before sprinting again.

In the final stint he steadily pulled away from Ricciardo as the flag approached, clearly not pushing the limit on the super-soft tyres.

Classic Vettel. The pole lap was incredible, and the race was controlled from start to finish.

Max Verstappen’s Japanese Grand Prix

Verstappen denied team mate Sainz again at Suzuka
It was a closely contested poll for Driver of the Weekend at Suzuka, and with just 29.4% of the vote Verstappen had the lowest winning total since Nico Hulkenberg in the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix.

It now seems commonplace in F1 that when the rain falls, the Toro Rosso drivers take to the track, so it was no surprise to see Verstappen and Sainz among those who topped the lap counts on the rain-hit Friday in Japan. Top eight positions in all three practice sessions seemed to be setting Verstappen up for a strong qualifying result, but an electrical failure in Q2 put paid to those hopes. To compound his misery, the stewards hit him with a three-place grid penalty for parking his car on the racing line.

But from 17th on the grid he rose to 13th by the end of lap four. An early pit stop gained him more ground, as did some impressive overtaking, including an ambitious – albeit failed – move around the outside of 130R. To complete the job he nailed Sainz at the chicane to take ninth.

Several other drivers picked up a large share of the votes in Japan. Hamilton’s flawless race win was nearly enough for him to win – he had just 5% less of the vote than Verstappen – while Hulkenberg, Alonso and Vettel also won much praise.

Did well in qualifying but suffered from an engine problem. After a penalty (which many think was a bit harsh) he started from 17th place. His team mate started tenth.

In the first few laps he overtook four cars. Then he got stuck behind other cars which are faster on the straights. He changed strategy and pitted early. Despite being down on engine power, he makes a number of great overtakes (e.g., on Alonso and Button – two world champions who are difficult to overtake if your car is even slower on the straight than the Hondas).

Once he was free, he drove extremely fast. At that point only the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers drive faster lap times. Eventually Verstappen’s fastest time is 0.449s faster than Sainz’s and only 0.331s slower than Vettel’s! He caught up with his team mate and overtook him. In the remaining laps, he drove 15 seconds away despite being on tyres that degrade faster.

For me it was Max Verstappen for his great recovery drive from 17th to ninth following yet another qualifying impact by car failure.

Due to lack of Renault engine power overtake was certainly not easy, several times the car ahead pulled away despite Max having DRS.

They changed his strategy giving him clean air and immediately Max delivered quick lap after quick lap and in his final stint he made his medium tyre last longer/better than those around him on the hard tyre and he finished 15 seconds ahead of his team mate who started seven places ahead and had more clean air for most of the race.
Jelle van der Meer

He drove a great race and provided a few excellent overtakes without making mistakes. He’s already driving well beyond his years and I think he’ll be pushed into a top team early so that team can tie him up to a long term contract.

It will be interesting to see what happens to him if Red Bull leave F1 as it’s looking like Manor will be to Mercedes and Hass will be to Ferrari what Toro Rosso is to Red Bull: A training ground for young promising drivers. Driving for one of those teams would be a step backwards so would he be pushed into a leading team?

2015 Driver of the Weekend winners

2015 Australian Grand PrixFelipe Nasr60.6%
2015 Malaysian Grand PrixSebastian Vettel66.4%
2015 Chinese Grand PrixLewis Hamilton44.5%
2015 Bahrain Grand PrixKimi Raikkonen57.1%
2015 Spanish Grand PrixNico Rosberg60.0%
2015 Monaco Grand PrixLewis Hamilton37.3%
2015 Canadian Grand PrixSebastian Vettel41.6%
2015 Austrian Grand PrixNico Hulkenberg34.9%
2015 British Grand PrixLewis Hamilton44.4%
2015 Hungarian Grand PrixSebastian Vettel51.9%
2015 Belgian Grand PrixRomain Grosjean52.0%
2015 Italian Grand PrixLewis Hamilton47.6%
2015 Singapore Grand PrixSebastian Vettel56.8%
2015 Japanese Grand PrixMax Verstappen29.4%

2015 Japanese Grand Prix

Browse all 2015 Japanese Grand Prix articles

40 comments on “Verstappen earns plaudits for Japan and Singapore performances”

  1. I did expect him to win (although I don’t agree) and seeing he only scored 29,4% of the votes makes me think there were more people besides myself who perhaps agree he is being overhyped every single DOTW for overtaking two or three cars with a Renault engine (with a car that is still better than a Manor, McLaren and Sauber).

    1. [quote]seeing he only scored 29,4% of the votes makes me think there were more people besides myself who perhaps agree he is being overhyped[/quote]

      I think you’re drawing the wrong conclusions from that. Seeing he scored “only” (?) 29,4% you can really only draw two conclusions:
      1. Almost a third of the voters thought he was the DOTW. Which means a lot of people thought he was very impressive over the weekend.
      2. It was close with (one or more) other drivers

      How you go from a third of the voters thinking he was very impressive, to the conclusion that lots of people think he is being overhyped, that I don’t understand.

      Honestly I have no idea what you have against the guy. He is confirming all the good that was being told about him and it takes some nerves of steel to do that, because pressure must have been ridiculously high. He’s made a few errors but outside of that has raced very well with a few daunting overtaking manoeuvres, and has spiced up many races up until now. It’s easy to see the promise he holds.

      As for Japan, to come from 15 seconds behind your teammate to 15 seconds ahead over a single stint – wow.

      1. He gets these votes because he overtakes and people remember this one overtake over an impressive performance of the weekend in a vote that is called DOTWeekend. Hulkenberg for example had a massive start, held P6 and scored very valuable points. In my book he had a much better weekend than Verstappen.

        By my use of ‘only’ I wanted to point out that all recent winners have scored well over 40% except for Hamilton in Monaco and Hulkenberg in Austria.

        Then you also cut out an essential part in the quote ‘…perhaps agree he is being over hyped every single DOTW‘. I’m not at all denying he is doing great and that he is an enormous talent. But even then when something is amazing it still can be over hyped.

        Perhaps my conclusion was a bridge too far but I was rather happy 60% didn’t jump to premature voting for a few great overtakes and gave their vote a little bit more thought.

        1. He gets the votes because he does what he does, not just because he pulls off a few overtakes. They do contribute, but that’s far from the sole reason. He just drove very, very well and I also feel he was one of the best.

          For the record, I didn’t vote for him as the DOTW – but I think it’s rather arrogant to state that those who did vote for him didn’t give their vote as much thought as those who didn’t vote for him.

          As for Hulkenberg: aren’t you contradicting yourself now? You hammer on it being driver of the weekend but all in all he was outqualified by his teammate (so rather driver of the race), and he didn’t put the car any higher than it belonged that day.

          1. He just drove very, very well and I also feel he was one of the best.

            Again, I agree, but his penalty could have been easily avoided and that was the reason this time out for me not to vote for him. Obviously being out qualified by your teammate can be a reason not to vote for a driver but I think we agree the race still weighs in bigger on the vote whilst on the other hand a massive shunt in FP could result in getting no votes too. Verstappen had bad luck with his electrical problems in Q2 but he could’ve started in 15th rather than 18th.

            At the end of the day everyone has his or her reasons to vote or not vote for someone and I simply noted that Verstappen gets a whole lot of votes for simply overtaking other cars, a few overtakes that look spectacular and forget about the other 19 drivers on the grid.

            but I think it’s rather arrogant to state that those who did vote for him didn’t give their vote as much thought as those who didn’t vote for him.

            I thought about typing obviously not all voters would think that way but I thought that was implied as we’re having an adult discussion and not one black and white yes or no game.

          2. @xtwl see, Verstappen lost 3 grid places because he didn’t place the car in the correct spot upon again another car failure. Hulkenberg lost 3 grid places due to underperforming compared to his teammate.
            Both then recovered from this during the race to place the car somewhere they couldn’t even have improved upon if they had done different things in qualifying.

            This is actually rather comparable, but for you Hulkenberg deserves the DotW and Verstappen is overhyped because he won the DotW. And I can’t really understand that ;)

            As for the last part – I never said your statement was about all voters, but there’s no two ways about it: that statement definitely says that generally the 70% gave it more thought than the 30%. I still think that’s a very arrogant thing to say.

        2. I have to say I agree. Judging from the comments it seemed like Verstappen would win the DOTW poll easily, but for him to only get 30% was a surprise. I think he is getting quite a vocal following which may give the illusion that he has more support than he really does. The commentators don’t help either, they tend to go mental every time he does anything to be fair. Yeah he is 18, yeah he is a genuinely exciting prospect, but he is a professional racing driver with over a decade’s racing under his belt so you can kind of take it as read that in the right circumstances he can overtake another driver.

          I do think people focus on things like overtakes in the race (and in the case of Verstappen, ignore things like him having a tyre advantage when he makes his passes and running off track to pass Nasr at Spa… ;)) but for me to vote for someone in the DOTW they have to have, at least, not had any silly crashes or incidents in FP, outqualified their team mate and out raced their team mate. If one of those is missing, I can’t vote for them. Yeah the race is a major factor, but it isn’t the be all and end all.
          The penalty Verstappen picked up may have been a bit harsh, but he still got it and it was avoidable. It compromised his race and for that reason I couldn’t vote for him.

          1. How serious is this poll? People voting for Alonso because he screamed gp2 engine over the radio. People vote for Hamilton and he was hardly on tv driving his faster car over the finish line first (flak incoming).

            This race I voted Verstappen because again he beat his teammate with skill and better tactics. The overtake on Alonso and Alonso’s reaction contributed to that decision.

          2. @rossotoro Not as serious as the decision to split Hewlett-Packard (or to sell off IBM’s PC division), nor was it meant to be (what – it’s an online poll!)

        1. @davidnotcoulthard Everyone is still getting used to it. I get substantially less references.

        2. @davidnotcoulthard aye, too much used to posting on boards with those kind of tags…

          And I have just noticed that the ‘@’-names have returned behind the usernames, which will be useful for referencing others.

    2. I agree. Generally speaking the sport has become more about entertainment than competition. Race ratings are all about ‘things’ happening on the track. Driver rating are all about who’s doing those things. Someone qualifying well and maintaining position, not making mistakes is barely on the radar is these polls. They get much less recognition than someone overtaking GP2 cars.

      1. @ivan-vinitskyy

        not making mistakes is barely on the radar is these polls

        Vettel made a lot of mistakes in Singapore, did he?

        1. @keithcollantine
          Actually Singapore and Hungary are good examples of what I’m talking about. Unpredictability and mistakes is what everybody liked and voted for. Vettel in both cases won partly because he was not in a Mercedes. We’re so used to Mercedes winning, like we were with Red Bull before, that the thought of someone else winning feels so much better to a lot of people here. Yes Vettel was solid in both races, but so are a lot of drivers who get ignored.

      1. It is going to be very monotonous in future with Verstappen.
        Remember Vettel winning and winning and we got completely fed up with that stupid finger of his – he drove everyone mad with that. (And still does – irritating or what)
        We will see the same happening with Max unfortunately – we are already fed up with the attention he gets and he has been driving only six months or so.
        This guy has talent – and we knock him for it.
        He has the right temperament – I’ve so far have not seen him do a thing wrong except the odd learning mistake. Also in the interviews, he just answers questions with minimum responses and leaves it at that. He lets us decide what we think. All he is interested in is racing and having fun – and he is just sooooo knowledgeable. His response to Massa in driver conference was a classic – and that was because he knew everything about every race. He is just 18 and that makes it so much more remarkable – I’ve never seen anyone focus like it. Just hope that life does not ruin him over time. Jealousy is the driving force of us human beings – it makes us want more and better all the time – but it is also our ruin – a complete contradiction in terms.

    3. Seems Max is populair if you seems Justin Auction:

      He beats Lewis offer :) Great for Wilson family

  2. Toro Rosso are slower than McLaren in straight line max speed?

    1. I think Alonso has an answer for you.

  3. Considering the Chinese Grand Prix I am amazed this is Verstappen’s first win. Well deserved, none the less.

  4. maarten.f1 (@maarten-f1) (@)
    6th October 2015, 14:29

    Another record for Verstappen! Youngest ever DOTW ;)

  5. ColdFly F1 - @coldfly (@)
    6th October 2015, 15:09

    Good list of DOTW this year!
    8 different names after 14 races, and we probably would’ve seen Alonso and/or Button on that list as well if they had a better car (to finish more races and mingle with the fastest).

    PS – where did Nasr go since Melbourne?
    PPS – I know technically it has not been said (yet) this time, but why do we always see comments of people disagreeing with the outcome of a poll. I trust Keith enough to say that the scores are only the result of the people’s votes! The most you can say is that you (would have) voted for somebody else.

    1. @coldfly

      I trust Keith enough to say that the scores are only the result of the people’s votes! The most you can say is that you (would have) voted for somebody else.

      Yes the results are only down to how people voted, and yes I think it’s the weakest possible argument to whinge that someone won without giving a reason why someone else deserved it more.

  6. M.V. Did a great job. With racers like him, drs would not be needed. Who else did a proper overtake at Suzuka this year?

  7. Ham 4 – Vet 4 – Ves 1 – Gro 1 – Hul 1 – Ros 1 – Rai 1 – Nas 1

    4-4, 5 races to go.. Who will win ‘DOTY’? Vet has the tiebreaker of 66.4% highest win so far..

  8. Many votes for MV are because the poll is posted on the Max Verstappen Racecar driver latest news group on Facebook. I suspect 99% of those voters will vote for Verstappen no matter what. Not saying votes for Max are totally unfair, but with 20k+ members in that group I’m sure the results are heavily biased.

    1. @renevdkooij I’m pretty sure @keithcollantine solved that (after a poll won by KUB by a landslide) by limiting the vote to F1F accounts (though I think you should limi it to those older than the polls, @keithcollantine ).

      1. Well, doesnt matter much, many people think he did a good job. Sure we can discuss metrics of vote to no end.

        At same times Alonso is nowhere, any driver who gets near the top of DotW did a pretty good job.

    2. What is the thing about saying how somehow a driver shouldn’t deserve it when he wins @renevdkooij, @xtwl?

      Its pretty simple, sometimes we have one driver that clearly stand out and wins by a large margin. Sometimes we have several that stand out or a more even field where opinions are more devided. But just as you still win the race if its with 5 thousands or if its with 2 laps distance, you win here as well.

      Talking it down arguing that people didn’t know what they are voting when its a pretty stable group of people voting just doesn’t cut it!

      1. @bascb: I never meant to say it wasn’t a deserved win. I just think the figures are skewed, and maybe the outcome could have been different too. The idea in that group seems to be, to simply post all the polls that they can find about Verstappen, and bombvote that to make him win. That is another type of vote than I expect from the regular f1fanatic members.
        With this in mind I can’t help but look at the outcome as a little mirky, and maybe is an answer to people questioning the outcome in the replies above.
        Which is a shame, because I sincerely hope Verstappen gets an unconditional DOTW from the knwowlo f1fanatic

        1. knowledgeable f1fanatic members..

  9. I think it’s quite honest to say Verstappen has been the revelation of the last few races…
    Considering the Toro Rosso lacks serious straight out speed he still manages to work his way forward at speeds this car shouldn’t be capable off. In Japan it showed even Alonso in the dramatic Honda powered Mc Laren wasn’t in reach for a few rounds. On pure racing skills Verstappen could catch up but Alonso still had better exit speeds… till he made one tiny mistake.

    Verstappen makes fewer mistakes each race… the penalty in Q2 was a pittyfull one, unnecessary from both driver as FIA.
    Verstappen’s reaction on twitter… ‘yes, more cars to overtake’.

    After his uncredible performance in Singapore (where Vettel was immaculate indeed), Japen showed it wasn’t a one off and that made Verstappen stand out in a further very predictable race

  10. Happiness is reading your own post quoted in the site that best covers the sport you love.

    Thank you Keith :)

  11. I started off the season thinking he was overhyped. Success in karting and F3 doesn’t necessarily translate in F1 success. Too young and unexperienced. I bought into that argument. I still wasn’t convinced after watching Australia, China and the next few races. Definitely very talented, but a bit too risky and over the top. Then just when I was about to change my opinion at the Monaco GP due to incredible speed and beautiful lines, he crashed badly. Canada was a bitch of a race too. However, he turned things around quite beautifully in Austria, and apart from Silverstone he’s just been marvellous (though at times still too courageous). Now, these last two races he’s been ridiculously good (even not considering the overtakings), and also seems to be safer and smoother in what he does. His perception of what’s happening around him in traffic and the way he manages his tyres, given how he drives, is impressive. He’s growing up really fast. Can’t say he’s overhyped anymore. Thoroughly deserved to top this poll. Let’s see if he can keep this up.

    1. I kind of totally agree… as a Dutch fan I’de like to see Verstappen score points and make nice overtakes, but I always had the feeling it was gonna be close to crashing as well, he seemed very risky. After the last few races it really shows Verstappen has learned to feel the car and the cars around him, the way anticipates is out of the ordinairy.

      Already for a couple of times we seen him overtake at places no one expects, not even de drivers.
      The abilty to go incredibly fast around the track (with a TR) and the abilty to create the possibilty to overtake without the use of DRS is his real talent.

  12. He’s performance is really very good! :)

  13. Amazing reading… (That’s sarcasm)

    Some people on here are so convinced that only they have the definitive world outlook when it comes to F1.

    This was a poll. If you didn’t think Max was the DOTW, then vote for someone who you thought was. It’s literally that simple.

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