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Talking points: What advice would you give Max Verstappen?

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Tech Corner: Why strategy calls are gaining importance (3:11)

After a call from Red Bull put Daniel Ricciardo on course for victory in China, Sam Collins joins Jennie Gow to explain why it won't be a one-off. (3:11)

A number of talking points emerged from the Chinese Grand Prix weekend. Laurence Edmondson (F1 editor), Nate Saunders (F1 deputy editor) and ESPN columnists Kate Walker and Maurice Hamilton have weighed in on several of them below.

Are you still sticking with your pre-season championship prediction?

Maurice Hamilton: Predicted Lewis Hamilton narrowly beating Sebastian Vettel
I'm beginning to think that Ferrari and Vettel can finally get it together and Mercedes are under more pressure than before. Hamilton's form in China is a concern -- he had one of those weekends where he didn't turn up -- but, as Lewis has shown before, he can bounce right back. If he doesn't, then I might regret sticking with my prediction.

Nate Saunders: Predicted Max Verstappen
I think I'm the only one of us who backed Max Verstappen and at this point I think I have to change it. I will say I did point out that either Red Bull driver could win it given a good car but Verstappen's form in late 2017 meant he just edged it for me over Daniel Ricciardo. Clearly, this year has shown he's still not quite the finished product, but the season is long enough that he could still turn things around. Given current form, however, I'll keep with the optimistic Red Bull theme and shift my prediction across the garage to Chinese Grand Prix star Ricciardo.

Kate Walker: Predicted Lewis Hamilton
I'm not convinced that Lewis has lost the title -- we're only three races into a 21-round season, and there are a lot of points to play for -- but I will concede that he's going to have more of a fight on his hands than I thought. Daniel Ricciardo was brilliant in Shanghai, but his power unit problems mean he's already skating uncomfortably close to a penalty considering we're still in the first round of fly-aways. Max Verstappen can be brilliant but is erratic, although he may come to pose a threat having been burned twice already this year. Sebastian Vettel is on fire, performing well in a car said to be not his style. Lewis can still do it, but Vettel is a very credible threat.

Laurence Edmondson: Predicted Lewis Hamilton
With the exception of 2015, Lewis Hamilton has made shaky starts to all of his successful title campaigns. He proved in Australia that he has lost none of his pace over the winter and to be lying just nine points off the championship leader after three races is hardly a disaster. If his poor form in China spills over to the next two or three races then maybe I'd change my mind, but with the pace he and Mercedes have shown early on I would still back him for the title.

Is Lewis Hamilton correct that Mercedes no longer has the quickest car?

MH: I wouldn't put it as bluntly as that. Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull (Renault' shortfall notwithstanding) are so close that performance each weekend looks like coming down to finding the very narrow sweetspot and then making the correct instantaneous strategy calls. There is no doubt that Mercedes no longer have the comfort zone they once had but the consistency shown so far may, as it often does, tell in the end.

NS: At the moment its hard to make the case that Mercedes is the team to beat. Strategy has played a part in all three race defeats but there's no escaping the fact Mercedes is not clear favourite every weekend. However, despite not winning a race and Ferrari winning two, Mercedes still leads the constructors' championship and that should be telling -- with consistency form its drivers and good reliabilty, it still appears to have the strongest overall package on the grid and that is just as valuable over the course of a whole season.

KW: It's definitely correct to say that Mercedes no longer has the dominant car. But the W09 is still blisteringly quick. The issue seems to stem from the tyres, with the team struggling to eke out maximum performance from the Pirelli rubber in either hot or cold conditions. But these are early days, and back at Brackley all manner of staff will be working day and night to figure out issues with the car. Once the team has got a handle on the rubber, things should get interesting.

LE: In an alternate universe where Haas wheelnuts stayed in place, Francesco Cigarini didn't have a broken leg and the Toro Rosso drivers did as they were told, Mercedes could have won all three races this year. There's no doubt its closer at the front than in recent years, but when the W09 is in its sweetspot it's going to be hard to beat. There's a good chance it will be difficult for Mercedes to find that sweetspot early in the season and that is likely to offer more opportunities for Hamilton's rivals to capitalise.

What advice would you give Max Verstappen?

MH: I don't think it's necessary to hand out any advice. The introspective look on his face during post-race interviews suggests that the penny has finally dropped. Here was a win -- which he desperately needed after such a shaky start to the season -- thrown away. And his team-mate then came from behind and showed Max how it should be done. 'Nuff said.

NS: Verstappen's comments after the race in China were encouraging. For the first time we saw him own a mistake and he seemed genuine in his desire to learn and grow from it. My advice would be to keep being introspective and accept faults. There's a fine line between genius and recklessness; Verstappen just needs to be better at knowing where to find it every weekend.

KW: Calm down, dear! When Max's moves come off, they're stunning. When they fail, they're spectacular. Every attempted overtake is a throw of the dice of sorts, but Verstappen is more keen to gamble than his peers, many of whom have seen race wins and championships disappear in the wake of self-inflicted DNFs. Time softened them, and Max will also adapt. No one wants to see him be less ballsy, but a little more calculating might be the way forward.

LE: After a series of technical failures last year, Red Bull boss Christian Horner took Verstappen to one side and told him to focus on the final five races as a mini championship. He did just that and finished those five races tied on points with Hamilton and ahead of every other driver. Yes, Verstappen has made mistakes, but he needs to put them behind him and start afresh in Baku. As silly as some of the mistakes were, it would be more detrimental if he were to start second guessing himself at 200mph.

Which team would you like to see Ricciardo at next year?

MH: I would love to see him at Ferrari. His Sicilian family background and fluent Italian would go down a treat. Given his temperament, Ricciardo could deal with the inevitable pressure. But, sadly, I can't see it happening for as long as Vettel holds sway. No way is he going allow Daniel into the other car (given past form at Red Bull) and, equally, no way is Ricciardo going to accept Seb's de facto No.1 status that led to the almost disdainful treatment of Raikkonen last weekend. Mercedes or Red Bull? Really don't care which.

NS: The team with the best car on the grid. As much as I would love to see him in the same car as Lewis Hamilton, I don't see much point in that if Mercedes slips down the pecking order in 2018. I can't see that happening, but it would be frustrating to see him swap Red Bull for Mercedes if his current team moved ahead next year.

KW: I don't think it really matters -- Ricciardo is the sort of driver who makes the most of every opportunity he's given. Personable and well-liked, his only problem inside a team is being a threat to his teammate, and that would be the case wherever he drove in the top of the pack. Given the fastest car on the grid, D-Ric would be an absolute nightmare to overtake -- he's very adept at making his car wider than physics deems possible. But even in a lesser machine, Daniel has shown he can pick up wins with stellar performances like those seen in Shanghai and Budapest, squeezing every drop out of himself and his car.

LE: I'd like to see him at Mercedes alongside Hamilton. That pairing would be one of the most exciting on the grid and would keep Hamilton on his toes (hopefully avoiding performances like the one he had in China). Mercedes has a commitment to equality between its drivers -- as it proved to a fault with Hamilton and Rosberg -- and it would mean Ricciardo isn't dependent on Renault (or Honda) producing a strong enough engine next year. He's also made clear that he wants to race against Hamilton in his prime.