Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Zandvoort, 2021

Verstappen was unaware of DRS fault on pole-winning lap

2021 Dutch Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner have revealed that multiple car problems during Verstappen’s final qualifying lap almost cost him his pole position.

Verstappen took pole for his first home grand prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton by just 0.038s despite losing two-tenths to the Mercedes driver in the last sector on their final attempts in qualifying.

Speaking in the drivers’ press conference, Verstappen said his car shifted up an additional gear on the exit of the Hugenholtz corner, compromising his run along the back straight.

“For me the problem started earlier out of turn three – it’s quite bumpy and I had a double-upshift,” said Verstappen. “So I was two-tenths up on my lap and I lost one-and-a-half tenths all the way to turn seven. And then you also use more energy because you are a gear higher, so I de-rated as well.”

Christian Horner also confirmed that Verstappen’s DRS failed to fully deploy on his rear wing, which contributed to Verstappen losing time to Hamilton over the final part of the lap.

“We saw we lost a straight-line speed just on that last straight,” said Horner. “It looks like that the DRS hasn’t opened properly, so he’s probably given away a tenth, a tenth-and-a-half. But an amazing performance by him under massive pressure. So really happy with that.”

Verstappen said he was unaware that his DRS had failed to deploy fully on the run to the line after he activated it.

“I had no clue that it was closed,” he said. “Together of course with what I said before with the double-upshift, it’s not ideal. So there was definitely quite a bit more time in it. Luckily it was enough for pole.”

Horner says that the pressure to deliver in front of his home fans at the first Dutch Grand Prix in almost forty years was not fazing their championship contender.

“It’s remarkable. It’s almost as if all of that lot out there isn’t going on because he just doesn’t seem to feel it,” said Horner.

“He was watching the DTM race before qualifying. He’s very relaxed. He’s just treating it like a normal race weekend and the other side of the fence is going bananas. What an amazing atmosphere. And for sure, every driver feeds off a home crowd.”

With the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez starting from the near the back of the field after being eliminated in Q1, Horner says that the team expect to feel pressure from the Mercedes pair of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in the race.

“We’ve just got to get our head down and get on with our own race,” Horner said.

“In a perfect world, we drive away at the front. I just somehow think it’s not going to be that simple. But they’ve got two guys that they can split their options. But the key guy we have to beat, obviously, is Lewis. So you’ve got to pick your fights.”

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2021 Dutch Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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16 comments on “Verstappen was unaware of DRS fault on pole-winning lap”

  1. So a DRS fault after all.

  2. Ok that makes a bit more sense. I thought he should have been able to beat his previous time by more than he did.

  3. That thing on shifting up a gear extra is just driver error, surely?

    On Perez, they have to take that engine penalty here you’d reckon? Worth more now he’s down in 16th anyway. Neither 16th or 20th gives him a real chance to stall the Mercedes either way.

    1. @hahostolze vibrations is what Max stated so it skipped a gear.

      1. @br444m that or his hand vibrated again the pedal? Seems more likely to me…

        1. Yeah I read it as the bumps caused him to double shift. You know very few drivers would or should admit fault 😉

          Reply moderated
    2. I’m not sure you can arbitrarily do an engine swap and take the penalty unless you can show that the engine is damaged … wink-wink.
      Certainly a good idea.

      1. You can choose when and how you use your engine allocation. At any point a competitor can elect to use a 4th engine, and will incur a penalty when they do so.

        Now would be an ideal time to introduce a new engine.

      2. @Kester @rekibsn
        They did. Perez will be at the back

  4. They may have to choose to sacrifice 1st place to stay ahead of Lewis. This could provide a great opportunity for Bottas to win.

  5. Can they repair it before tomorrow? Or he is condemned to race without DRS tomorrow?

    1. I would also like to know, does parc-ferme conditions prevent RB from touching the rear wing?

      1. Horner said during an interview on Ziggo Sports they are allowed to fix it.

        Reply moderated
    2. Yes because it’s a security issue.

  6. So he should have been 3 or 4 tenths up which makes more sense

  7. So, basically, he was good for a much faster time…

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