His style might cause controversy, but Max Verstappen’s mature drive in Japan showed once again that Red Bull Racing could be the ones to beat in 2017.
While Daniel Ricciardo finished outside the top five places for the first time since June in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, Verstappen capitalised on Lewis Hamilton’s slow start to come home second in Suzuka, overtaking Sebastian Vettel for fifth place in the championship.
Ricciardo’s win in Malaysia levelled the playing field after Verstappen’s triumph in Spain, reminding everyone he was still a major player in the world of F1.
But even though he has come under fire for his ruthless style and aggressive defensive manoeuvres, Verstappen kept his head in the closing stages, forcing Hamilton into a mistake to safely take second from Nico Rosberg - who Verstappen held off in similar fashion in Canada.
With Ferrari’s pace fading rapidly, Verstappen has moved within five points of Kimi Raikkonen in fourth place in the standings, while Ricciardo is comfortably third as the team moved 50 points clear of the Italians in the team championship.
And with the rule changes in 2017 set to shake things up, Red Bull are ideally placed to be in touch with the dominant Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Rosberg, who secured their third title in a row on Sunday.