Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2020

Verstappen was “very close to a puncture” at end of race

2020 Belgian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen described how he backed off over the final eight laps of the Belgian Grand Prix over concerns he would not be able to make his tyres last until the end of the race.

The Red Bull driver finished third behind the two Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas after a 33-lap second stint on hard compound tyres. Verstappen believes he was at risk of developing a puncture despite nursing his car home over the closing stages.

“We just had no tyres left,” says Verstappen. “I think I was very close to a puncture.”

“We ran out of tyres at the end. So for the last eight laps I was backing it out, saving the front tyres. It was not really enjoyable out there today. On the mediums, I didn’t really have a lot of grip and then on the hard tyres I was initially trying to put pressure on Bottas but then they told him to speed up and I couldn’t keep up.”

Verstappen was the only driver to keep touch with the Mercedes out front, but fell more than six seconds behind Bottas in the closing laps as he tried to conserve his remaining tyre life.

“It was pretty boring, to be honest,” Verstappen admitted. “Not really interesting. Not much to do. I couldn’t really keep up with them when they were pushing.”

The Red Bull driver says the team opted against a late second pit stop for new tyres due to the threat posed by Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault behind him.

“I was not sure with [Renault’s] top speed whether it would’ve been easy to pass them, so we decided to just stay out,” explains Verstappen. “It was probably a good weekend for Renault.

“But we finished third. I don’t think any more than that would’ve been possible today. Okay, maybe it wasn’t the most satisfying third, but it’s still better than nothing.”

While Verstappen maintains second in the drivers’ championship, the Red Bull driver is now 47 points adrift from Hamilton.

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2020 Belgian Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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7 comments on “Verstappen was “very close to a puncture” at end of race”

  1. I guess if the race was even a lap longer he would have lost it to Ricciardo.

    1. Chaitanya, that is quite plausible – Verstappen was losing seconds a lap to Ricciardo in the closing stages, with the final lap seeing a swing of 4.5 seconds in Ricciardo’s favour. At that rate, one more lap would have definitely seen Ricciardo catch Verstappen and it probably wouldn’t have been too difficult to pass him with such a difference in performance.

  2. What? RBR and Verstappen running out of tyres?

    They are so soft on tyres, they can finish the whole championship on one set of softs!

    Or at least this is what Horner and media want us to believe.

    Clearly someone’s not telling the truth

  3. No he wasn’t. Just too slow to handle the two hot mercs. Get used to it and may be Daniel will have a shot at the P3.

    Rejoice while you can.

  4. 2020 shows an alarming trend. That trend is the race after race reality that the current Pirelli tire has been producing a race tire construction not able to deal with the performance demands. Current situation is that a team and it’s driver may have a Tire failing that alters the course of the championship. The very purpose of this style of racing. So it continues and race after race the odds become the odds.
    Drivers will race on in spite of it all. The tires are close to becoming a problem for F1. Sounds like the drivers are becoming more vocal during the race. Isn’t that enough to stop the season until a solution is found. I’m still bothered about 1982 and what happened at Zolder. Tires cost a future great the highest price. F1 gets stupid at times with rules meant to improve the sport but actually hurts it and those results are costly. DRS. Maybe the time has come for a second tire Mfg so that competition may yield a safer more competitive product. Worked in the past and will work again. It’s all about money.
    All of the competitive drivers are complaining race after race.

    1. They could maybe try changing tyres more than once in a race to alleviate all concerns…

    2. H67, you’ve gone on a very weird rambling rant in your post, almost as if you had three different complaints you wanted to make simultaneously and ended up mashing them together in a confused mess.

      What on earth does Gilles’s accident in 1982 at Zolder have to do with the performance of the tyres in 2020? Your weird rant about how “Tires cost a future great the highest price.” makes no sense at all – those who were present at the time have said that Gilles’s fatal accident had nothing to do with the tyres and occurred because Gilles and Mass misunderstood what the other driver wanted to do in a split second move that ended in tragedy.

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