F1 analysis: Max Verstappen right to be upset - but with himself

Max Verstappen's radio outbursts during the Australian Grand Prix revealed the furious mindset of a Formula 1 driver frustrated by a race that rapidly got away from him

F1 analysis: Max Verstappen right to be upset - but with himself

Having qualified a superb fifth, run fourth for the first 18 laps, and spent more than half of the Albert Park F1 race ahead of world champion Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes, Verstappen should have been in high spirits - and on for a good result.

As it was he finished a disappointed 10th, having spent the second part of the grand prix repeatedly lambasting his Toto Rosso team over the radio.

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He even drove into the back of team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr at one point near the end.

No wonder Verstappen declared afterwards that he was "upset" with how his first race of 2016 ultimately unfolded.

Verstappen's radio outbursts began after Toro Rosso elected to bring Sainz into the pits on lap 31 of 57, feeling Sainz was suffering excessive front locking on the soft tyre.

At that point Sainz was running fifth, just ahead of Hamilton's medium-tyred Mercedes and a couple of seconds behind Verstappen, also running soft tyres.

Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull (also on softs) was another couple of seconds further up the road - having jumped Verstappen in the pits early on - and pulling away gradually.

Verstappen reacted to Sainz's unexpected stop by bringing his own STR into the pits on the next lap, without being instructed to do so.

He lost around seven seconds while the team frantically searched for a set of medium tyres to fit to the car, complaining over the radio "how many times have I said I had problems with the tyres? I wanted to pit first!"

Knowing the soft tyres would not last to the end of the race, Verstappen's outburst suggested he was concerned Sainz had been given strategic priority and would inevitably jump ahead when Verstappen eventually made a planned stop.

But in reality that stop dropped Sainz completely out of contention. Even if Verstappen was struggling with the tyres as he claimed, there's every reason to think he would have finished at least sixth had he stuck to plan.

Verstappen was 0.373s per lap slower than Ricciardo from the restart until the point Sainz pitted on lap 31. Sainz was 0.495s per lap slower. Felipe Massa's Williams - running the medium tyre - was more than 1.1s slower; Romain Grosjean's Haas (also on medium) over 1.7s.

VERSTAPPEN EXTENDS GAP TO GROSJEAN BEFORE HIS STOP

VERSTAPPEN EXTENDS GAP TO MASSA BEFORE HIS STOP

It's clear the medium tyre was the correct one to be on for the last part of the race, but accepting the soft was a poor choice strategically Ricciardo was still able to make it last until lap 42.

Only once across that entire 22-lap stint - on lap 41 - did he lap slower than Massa. He dropped behind the Williams after making his extra stop, but running much fresher tyres that were two steps softer than his rival's made recovering fourth place relatively easy.

Although degradation is not linear, had Verstappen stayed out, been able to roughly maintain his pace deficit to Ricciardo, and pitted when his Red Bull stablemate did, he would have rejoined comfortably within the gap between Massa and Grosjean, rather than behind the Haas, both Williamses, both Force Indias, Jolyon Palmer's Renault, and his own team-mate.

It took Ricciardo four laps to catch and pass the Williams. Theoretically it wouldn't have take Verstappen too much longer, given he also could have used super-soft rubber to the end.

Verstappen was not as fast as Ricciardo, but had he stayed calm and stuck to strategy he would probably have finished fifth. He certainly would have finished sixth.

That's why he was right to point out a missed opportunity for Toro Rosso, on a weekend when it was fighting Williams and Red Bull to be the third-best team.

But he only has himself to blame.

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