Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit of the Americas, 2016

Verstappen “on autopilot” during pit stop error

2016 United States Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen admitted he was “on autopilot” when he came into the pits without having been asked to during last weekend’s race.

The Red Bull pit crew had to scramble to service their car after the driver pulled into the pits my mistake and announced “I’m boxing” on the radio.

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Circuit of the Americas, 2016
2016 United States Grand Prix in pictures
Verstappen said he’d “thought a lot about” the mistake since Sunday and explained he’d assumed his pit stop was due without checking it.

“I think at one point after racing already for almost an hour you get into a comfort zone, a bit on autopilot, and I think that’s what happened to me.

“I saw Daniel [Ricciardo] boxing in front of me the lap before and normally when you are close behind each other you go the next lap.”

“And then the guys told me to push hard. I was pushing hard and just suddenly I was like ‘I think I should box’. But then I turned around the corner and no one was there and I thought ‘I shouldn’t box’.”

Verstappen had pitted on the lap after his team mate at the first round of pit stops. He praised his team for completing the pit stop quickly despite not expecting him to arrive. “At the end of the day the crew still did a great job,” he said. “I was only 9.2 seconds with no tyres ready in the beginning.”

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    Keith Collantine
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    37 comments on “Verstappen “on autopilot” during pit stop error”

    1. That’s quite a well-explained, reasonable mistake. He’s only in his second season so the important thing is he learns from it and doesn’t repeat it :) it’s nice that he’s admitted to the mistake too

      1. That’s why he got my vote for FIA DOTD ;-) !

    2. Mistakes happen. Both Button and Hamilton once failed to pit at the correct team.

      1. But that’s a completely different kind of mistake.

        1. Would it have been better to make the exact same mistake…??

          The team itslef made a mistake in Monaco, Willaims put different tyres on Bottas car… mistakes happen, regardless…

        2. No i’s just a mental lapse. It’s something that happens to humans with working brains.

    3. Not sure I believe him. It’s been suggested he came in thinking it would give him a better chance of finishing in front of RIC. In any case, it didn’t help the engine and could have been the reason for its failure.
      If he would have listened to his “team” and eased up to preserve the tires it wouldn’t have happened in the first place.

      1. His team wasn’t asking him to ease up

        1. Yes they did David

        2. They did as you see in the radiotext. And he did backoff after that.

          The pitstop was an wishfull thinking for Max as the team had a other idea.

      2. And it was his gearbox, not his engine, that failed.

      3. Pitting without confirmation from the team is suicide, whether it is in F1, F3 or karting. I don’t believe he did this on purpose, knowing pitting unannounced would only hurt himself.

        1. It absolutely makes no sense to pit unannounced, but some people like to criticise him even when he does nothing wrong…

          I’m surprised the team aren’t putting a new system in place to avoid such mistakes in the future, fox example forcing the driver to say “I’m boxing” in full when he plans to pit instead of “copy” or “OK” like they do right now.

          1. @paeschli, they already have such a system in place, which is the “pit confirm” button – in other words, when the driver is given a message to come into the pits, he has to push a button on the wheel which sends a confirmation to the pit wall that he has heard the message and is coming into the pits.

      4. You dont believe him…but you do believe the press who always tries to win a scoop writing about Verstappen??

    4. Duncan Idaho (@)
      28th October 2016, 2:01

      6 To Max Verstappen OK Max just an update. Things starting to stabilise in and around you as you can see I’m sure. That was the fastest lap of the race. Other people looking after their tyres but not a disaster at the moment.
      20 To Max Verstappen Max just make sure that we can complete the stint we need OK, mate.
      20 From Max Verstappen I’m not here to finish fourth.

      1. So what’s your point?

    5. Driver of the day thinks his pit crew just sits there waiting for him to come around the corner…

    6. Some Autopilot that was…i thought driver aids were banned…

      Eh, I have nothing on him. I made mistakes on “autopilot” before, so cannot blame young Max to much, without being hypocritical.

      But as reminder other drivers did similar mistakes in the past, drivers like JB and LH, pitted in wrong garages, to their former teams,…

      So mistake like this probably wont stain any of his talent…

      It is telling however, that a driver is on autopilot, doing roughly 7s off quali times, for the majority of the race…

      I tried racing 7s off pace in my home sim… Booring as hell, saving tires, saving fuel, managing the brakes… Not letting tires get to cold.. Not really that exciting.

      1. Indeed, there’s something wrong with the current formula if you can drive much of the race in “autopilot”.

        1. @paeschli, on the contrary, most racing drivers, right from the earliest days of the sport, have in a sense been driving on “autopilot”. In other words, those drivers are not consciously processing the act of driving in their conscious mind – it is a reflexive semi-automatic action that is being controlled by their subconscious mind, so that most of the time they are not consciously thinking about the act of actually driving the car.

          If you go right back to the earliest days of the sport, Fangio wrote about how he would mentally prepare himself for a race, and talked about how he would enter something akin to a trance like state during a race. Moss, meanwhile, talked about the reason why he retired from motorsport being the fact that, after his accident, he found that he could not drive instinctively and was having to consciously think about what he was doing, something that he hadn’t had to do in the past – but I highly doubt that people would claim that the cars from the 1950’s or 1960’s were easy or boring to drive.

          In that sense, I don’t think that it was abnormal for Verstappen to say that he was driving on “autopilot” given that most drivers normally aren’t consciously thinking about what they are doing.

    7. If you think you should box, why not ask the pits first?
      Radio is automatically disconnected in the autopilot mode?

    8. It is telling however, that a driver is on autopilot, doing roughly 7s off quali times, for the majority of the race…

      By being on autopilot, he does not mean he is cruising. He means that he is ‘in the zone’, really focussed and deprived from any thoughts rather than racing. Just my 2 cents.

      1. Sorry, reply to @jureo

    9. Verstappen did the exact same thing in Australia earlier this year. Then it was frustation about Sainz getting the earlier stop.

      1. Different, there he informed his team he was boxing. This was just a complete accident.

        1. He informed the team while in the pit entry. It’s a carbon copy…

          This is what the team principal said after the race:

          Franz Tost (Team Principal): “ […] Within the next three laps also Max came into the pits, but the team was not prepared for this stop, as we did not call him. Therefore he lost 7 seconds, which put him in 12th position. This result is very disappointing for us, as we had the speed to finish in a much better position. The only positive aspect is the knowledge that the STR11 is very competitive.”

          1. It’s not a carbon copy at all. He told his team “I’m boxing” (I remember it very clearly) as it was a conscious and deliberate decision. On this occasion he wasn’t thinking, and it was an accident. The only similarities are the part you bolded; the team wasn’t ready, and he wasn’t called in. That doesn’t mean it was the same type of incident at all.

            1. In Australia he announced his stop while entering the pits. That’s pretty much the same as not calling in at all.
              In Australia Verstappen wasn’t thinking because he felt wronged, in the USA he wasn’t thinking because he was “in the zone”. I see far more similarities than differences.

    10. ruined his own race, and still fans of his voted him driver of the day. I think some people vote as soon as the vote is open, it should be voted on after the race.

      1. It’s quite clear DOTD is something that need another approach…

        Think it was Verstappens gearbox that ruined his race, the pitstop was an awefull mistake, but probably wouldn’t have cost him a track position at all. Mercedes was too fast for RBR and Ferrari too slow.

      2. Nobody cares about the dotd FIA vote. The more ridiculous ones the better I say, as it lessens it’s credibility. Judging dotd (or weekend) should happen after the race has finished if it’s to be taken seriously.

        1. It should never be taken seriously. Nothing more than a Big Brother style popularity contest. However a vote between the drivers for driver of the day? Now that would be worth something worth taking seriously.

    11. It could have been a costly mistake at any other race but ultimately the car failure mitigated the cost seeing as he wouldn’t have finished anyway. It’s not a mistake he’ll make again and I doubt anyone critical of him hasn’t made a similar mistake when doing something that is a routine procedure for them.

      That said I still don’t get the driver of the day vote. I mean he gave the quote of the day for sure, but up until his car failure, he wasn’t exactly setting the track on fire. His teammate had already split the Mercedes.

      1. Well you can vote during the race and in the first half he was the only driver willing to fight for a position. If the race had ended around lap 25 I would have given him DOTD too.

        It’s only at the end of the race I realized what a great GP Alonso and Sainz had done.

        1. That’s why the DOTD voting procedure is so dumb. It penalizes drivers who do great at the end.

    12. Max was changing tires at pitstop practice.
      He twittered:
      “The @redbullracing team is teaching me how to do my own pitstops, just in case… #lessonlearned #MexicoGP”

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