Fearless Verstappen blames Vettel for reckless driving

SINGAPORE — After being on the receiving end of reckless driving at the Singapore Grand Prix, Max Verstappen was quick to blame Sebastian Vettel.

Verstappen was forced to retire from Sunday's race after the first lap, the seventh time in 14 races that the Red Bull driver has failed to finish.

This time it wasn't engine failure, like on several occasions this season, but Vettel causing a first-lap crash that was easily avoidable.

"When you're fighting for a world championship you shouldn't do that," an upset Verstappen said of Vettel. "It was not very clever."

Race stewards cleared Vettel, whose miscalculated move ultimately forced his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren's Fernando Alonso out of the race.

"You shouldn't take those risks to squeeze someone that much," continued Verstappen, who clearly felt Vettel had transgressed. "I don't think it was a racing incident."

Although he had good cause to question Vettel, it was somewhat ironic coming from Verstappen.

The Dutch teen turns 20 at the end of September, but he already has a reputation of his own in Formula One. His aggressive, unapologetic, fearless — and even borderline dangerous — approach thrust Verstappen into the spotlight last season, almost as much as his superb driving highlighted his potential as a future world champion.

He became the youngest to win a race in Spain and to start from the front row of the grid in Monaco — at just 18 years old.

Then, at the Brazilian GP near the end of last season, he produced one of the finest performances in years. It was a sheer masterclass in overtaking as he carved his way through the field in driving rain, and had F1 observers in awe at the sheer brilliance of his driving.

But he also strongly upset drivers along the way in 2016 — none more so than Vettel and Raikkonen.

Raikkonen criticized him sternly at the Hungarian GP and even more heavily at the Belgian GP.

At the Mexican GP in October, Vettel completely lost his cool, delivering a barrage of expletives about Verstappen over race radio.

On Sunday, Verstappen was the one complaining.

After trudging back to his garage, he lamented his bad luck.

"I was in the middle without doing anything wrong," he said of Sunday's chaotic Turn 1 incident. "If I make a mistake myself and go off, that's a different story."

Yet just two months ago, even his own Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo publicly criticized Verstappen at the Hungarian GP.

Ricciardo's race was over after Turn 2 with Verstappen the perpetrator, recklessly swerving into him and unable to contain his urge to overtake.

Verstappen subsequently apologized to Ricciardo.

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