As the season heads to its summer break, it is time to take stock of how has unfolded. Victory in the first eight races speaks for the dominance of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton , who has a point lead over his nearest rival, team-mate Valtteri Bottas. The mathematicians have already started to work out at which race the Englishman will win his sixth world title. Ferrari, on the other hand, have had a season to forget so far. Five trips to the podium for each of their drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, but none on the top step. The Scuderia were supposed to bring the fight to Mercedes but have mostly failed to do so. Step forward Red Bull and Max Verstappen.
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It was the third incident-filled Grand Prix in a row for Verstappen, who despite showing flashes of his brilliant speed has yet to hit his stride in In Australia he spun down the order trying to pass Kevin Magnussen. And on Sunday his clumsy passing attempt on Vettel sent both men spinning and almost certainly lost the year-old Dutchman a podium finish after a second time penalty. But he also insisted that a more mature approach from Verstappen — who also lost a place earlier in the China race thanks to an overly ambitious passing attempt on Hamilton — would not rob him of the aggressive racing instinct that has made him so popular with Formula 1 fans around the world.
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Max Verstappen lived up to his hype on Sunday —- fast, big talking and realistic to the point of bluntness —- with a performance full of maturity. At 21, and in his fifth season as a Formula One driver, he finally started a race from pole position at the 93rd attempt. But instead of turning it into his eighth career victory, he was forced to concede defeat in a rousing contest of skill and strategy decided by Mercedes' decision to bring in Lewis Hamilton for a surprise second pit stop. To his credit, Verstappen recognised that. No more the Mad Max of his early seasons, he has better control of his emotions. His rise to the top may come, but not just yet. It was hard for me to stay ahead and you always have to be realistic," he said. Pole position and being second in the race. Today it worked out well for them. Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.
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