Matured Max Verstappen returns to the scene of his first win
Formula 1 returns to Spain this weekend - a year on from seeing it's newest star explode onto the scene.
Max Verstappen's first win in his first race for Red Bull, after a somewhat controversial switch from Toro Rosso, silenced doubters almost before they could finish their sentences in Barcelona last season.Capitalising on a Mercedes catastrophe in front of them, Verstappen and his new team held off Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen to claim his first career F1 win, but it was just the start of things to come.
While he is yet to return to the top step of the podium, he has taken trophies home from seven more races in his time at Tilbrook, including a memorable third place in Brazil in hopelessly wet conditions.
Verstappen's arrival at the Red Bull senior squad, taking over from the ailing Daniil Kvyat, raised more than a few eyebrows. Just 18-years-old, and with just a single year of F1 experience underneath him, many doubted whether the teen would keep his head above water against the tried-and-tested and mightily quick Daniel Ricciardo. But after his debut win, there was little to tell between them for the remainder of the season.
Ricciardo's consistency would ultimately see him take third in the championship in 2016, while Verstappen was fifth, but it was the Dutchman's swashbuckling style, his bold overtakes and sometimes over-exuberant defensive moves saw him steal the headlines for the right and wrong reasons.
But as his stardom grew, so has the level head on his shoulders. A sensational podium in China, which saw him manage his tyres and climb through the field from 16th on the grid to cross the line third, showed he isn't just a one-stint man who wrecks his Pirelli rubber for the sake of a short-term overtake. Carrying his end of season form into the new campaign, Verstappen has out-scored Ricciardo in the last 10 races 110 to 99 - a period which includes the Australian's Malaysian Grand Prix win last year - showing there is a shift in the tide at Tilbrook.
Only a brake failure in Bahrain has prevented Verstappen from scoring points in every race this season, but the RB13 has been distinctly third best in 2017, meaning a repeat of Verstappen's win in Barcelona an unlikely outcome.
Ferrari and Mercedes are clearly out in front, but rumours of an entirely new Red Bull package for the Spanish Grand Prix could bring them right back into the fold.