It’s hard to imagine that the Bahrain Grand Prix could have gone any worse for Max Verstappen and Red Bull even if they tried to envision a scenario where the worst ended up happening. Indeed, if the team slept well on the Saturday night before the season-opening Grand Prix then they would have tossed and turned all of Sunday evening as a sense of unexpected yet crippling anxiety took hold of them.
There’s little doubt that Verstappen would have been hit hardest by the uncertainty after he had to retire on the penultimate lap due to a faulty fuel pump. To make matters worse, the Dutchman had to watch all his championship rivals pass him as he limped back to the pits at a snail’s pace.
The only crumb of comfort that Red Bull and Verstappen can hold onto now is that all the top betting sites that offer generous sign-up bonuses to any F1 fans still price the 24-year-old as the man to beat. Take bet365 for example, which can be found on this list of betting sites that have been carefully researched by experts: they have priced Verstappen at odds of just 15/8 to still win the 2022 Drivers Championship. That may come as scant consolation now for the Dutchman and his team but the truth is that they are still very much in the hunt this season. Although the events in Bahrain would have been hugely traumatic to say the very least.
With this in mind, the anguish in Verstappen’s voice that could be heard on the team radio was understandable and you can appreciate how crushing it would have been to go out in such awful fashion during the opening race of the season.
The problem was, however, that the 24-year-old adopted quite a petulant tone with his team throughout the entire race even when discussing minor issues that didn’t appear to derail his chances. Naturally, this set the tone for an out-of-proportion reaction to the mechanical problems that threatened his championship hopes later on. Now, had Verstappen kept his cool then perhaps there would have been more time for critical thinking whilst the world around him seemed to be falling apart. Instead, the team was not able to rectify the problems by formulating a plan of action and a crushing retirement followed.
Of course, we know now that the problems the Red Bull team faced in Bahrain had virtually no chance of being solved on the day but there are still lessons to be learned in the sense that unforeseen circumstances will undoubtedly once again descend on the team. In other words, the need for composure is still a great one and Verstappen must find the self-control that allows him to trust his team when problems arise. Essentially, it could be the difference between remaining the world champion and losing his crown for the first time of asking.
It’s important to stress that Verstappen isn’t alone in the way he talks to his team. Lewis Hamilton who is 12 years older than Verstappen has never mastered the art of composing communication in the driver’s seat and there are countless stories in the very latest online sports news pages about him losing his cool with his those on the pit wall. Fortunately for Hamilton, he has had the fastest car on the grid for the last ten years which has helped make up for all manner of sins.
Max Verstappen may not have that luxury in 2022 and if that turns out to be the case then the 24-year-old will need to use everything in his power to even the playing fields, starting with keeping an even temperament when adversity strikes.