Belgian Grand Prix: ‘Cheeky’ Max Verstappen teases opponents as his third world title approaches
The Dutchman won the Belgian Grand Prix for Red Bull from sixth on the grid at a canter, scarcely extending himself.
When he sought to pass Sergio Perez for first place, he lapped two seconds quicker than his Red Bull teammate.
Verstappen spent the rest of the race arguing with his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase over how hard he should push once he got to the front.
Verstappen was able to joke with his teammates after taking the lead. When Lambiase was ordered to ease up on his final set of tyres due to Red Bull’s concerns about their durability, he suggested pushing even harder, extending an even wider margin, and taking another set to give the team more pit stop practice.
Not that they need it, given that Red Bull always has the quickest pit stops.
“He has every reason to be a little cheeky,” said Toto Wolff, the manager of the Mercedes team, which two years ago was battling toe-to-toe with Verstappen for the title, but now appears powerless and confused in trying to figure out why Red Bull’s margin is so large.
“He’s just cruising around.” On the basis of merit. There is nothing further to say. As much as it irritates me.”
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton phrased it another way. “He’s got a cigarette and a pancake,” Hamilton added, referring to an iconic Austin Powers quote about Dutch people and marijuana.
Though Verstappen’s blistering pace gave the impression that he rejected Lambiase’s pleas to slow down, especially after crossing the line 22.3 seconds ahead of the only man in the identical vehicle, this was not the case.
Verstappen, according to Lambiase, “did listen” after the race. It really didn’t appear that way, such was his superiority.