There is a wholly familiar look to the front of the grid for Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix, but a little further behind the two Mercedes there is a teenage sensation making waves in Formula One and poised for more points.
Max Verstappen is showing exactly why Red Bull were so keen to take the then 17-year-old under their wing at Toro Rosso and nurture his talents.
Now at the far grander age of 18 years (and a few days) the Dutch driver has just outshone his senior team members, qualifying ahead of both Red Bulls in Sochi, where Daniel Kyvat was squeezed out of Q3 altogether thanks to Verstappen.
The son of Jos will begin Sunday’s race from ninth and there’s very good reason to believe he can deliver the points his impressive driving merit.
Ladbrokes make the Toro Rosso teenager an 8/11 chance to convert his top-10 grid position into a top-10 finish around a track he has clearly relished the challenge of this weekend.
Having suffered with plenty of reliability issues earlier in the campaign, consistency was a struggle, but as the season has progressed the retirements have virtually disappeared.
Eighth in Austria was followed up by that magnificent fourth in Hungary, paving the way for a purple-patch of point harvesting from the youngster, where the only one of the last five races he’s failed to collect any was at Monza.
Of the six times Verstappen has made it into Q3 in 2015, he has also converted four of those successes into F1 points which is another positive omen for the bet.
More adventurous punters would be excused a flutter on a top-six finish in Russia even, priced at 7/2.
The ramifications of Red Bull pulling the plug on F1 will be huge, but surely Verstappen must remain to give the sport some wow factor when its critics are mounting up.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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