Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021

Verstappen: Fighting for win “definitely not impossible” from third after crash

2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says he is “extremely disappointed” after throwing away a potential pole position by crashing at the final corner on his last lap in qualifying.

However he believes his car is more competitive than in Qatar and he still has a chance to win from third on the grid.

The championship leader had been on course to take a stunning pole position around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit after he was up by over two tenths on rival Lewis Hamilton in the first two sectors. But a mistake in the 27th and final corner on the circuit saw him tag the wall with the rear of his Red Bull, damaging his car and ending his hopes for pole.

The error secured pole position for rival Lewis Hamilton as the Mercedes driver looks to close the points advantage Verstappen holds before the final round next weekend in Abu Dhabi.

“I arrived there and for my feeling I was braking at the same point,” Verstappen explained. “But I had a little lock up and I still tried to, of course, finish the lap. But I clipped the wall on the exit, so I couldn’t continue.

“It’s extremely disappointing, of course. I thought we had a good car in qualifying and everything seemed to be coming together. It was just hard to nail the lap. Also in Q1 and Q2 with the traffic and stuff, but in Q3 it was good, but unfortunately I couldn’t finish the lap. So it’s, of course, extremely disappointing.”

Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, described his driver losing an almost assured pole position in such a fashion as “pretty brutal”.

“He’ll be frustrated, I’m sure,” Horner told Sky. “He knows what a good lap it was, so he just needs to put that behind him now. He’s still P3 on the grid. He needs to have a good start. Anything can still happen in this race.”

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With concerns over whether Verstappen’s gearbox may need to be replaced due to damage from the accident – which would earn him a five place grid penalty – Horner says such a penalty would be “especially brutal”.

“We’ll get the car back. Hopefully, it’s not a gearbox penalty because that will be especially brutal,” said Horner.

“I think it’s going to be very hard to overtake here, so it’s going to be strategy and we know what happens with safety cars, you know, reliability, etcetera. So we’ll see. But grid position on any street circuit is crucial.”

Verstappen says he still has confidence that he will be able to take the fight to Mercedes in tomorrow’s race, although admits he expects overtaking will prove difficult.

“I haven’t really followed the car around there, so it’s a bit difficult to say, but I hope it’s going to be alright,” he said.

“But it’s not only that. We don’t really know the tyres, are they going to behave? So I’m confident, of course, I would have liked to start first, but now starting third it’s a bit more difficult, but definitely not impossible.”

“It seems like we can fight,” he added. “In Qatar we were really off the pace. It seems like our car is working a bit better here.

“I hope that tomorrow on this track we can follow well and then I’m sure if that’s the case then we have a good shot at it.”

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2021 Saudi Arabian 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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22 comments on “Verstappen: Fighting for win “definitely not impossible” from third after crash”

  1. SC are expected and i ve a feeling there will be min 2 periods, so anything is possible depending on the track position and timing of SC / VSC (not sure if something goes wrong vsc will be possible, anything other than SC cant be fixed/picked up from the circuit) and whether or not a pit stop is performed before or after SC… even someone from the back of the track can win it “theoretically

  2. I’ve seen the racing sims of this new circuit and on those the 3 DRS zone had the effect of allowing the drivers to constantly swap positions. We could see the same here unless the front runners pull out a lead. Also as a new track they’ll have to learn as they go where to try those manouvers. Verstappen can certainly slip stream the cars ahead.

    It really depends on Bottas, how much he wants that podium position to make him the all time greatest number 2 in the history of the sport. He currently shares that honour and has only the next race to make that position his legacy.

    Redbull have given everything to qualify, i just wonder what they have left to race with.
    mean time Bottas has an engine changed so i wonder if this is better or worst, was this being held in reserve?

    1. constantly swap positions

      At the Codemasters’ game? I have never played it, or any of its releases from the recent years.

      So I have a question:
      Is that game simulating, or emulating the effect of dirty air/turbulences? Because without that, following closely and overtaking is likely much easier. (I drive other sims preferably with all driving aids turned off, sometimes even the ones which would be allowed in the simulated car class -like modern GT3 have traction control and ABS -, because it is the way I have fun.)

      And another question (for anyone), does any of the currently popular (or fairly widely used), publicly available racing simulator games try to simulate the effect of dirty air?
      (I don’t think so, or I would be surprised, as aerodynamics is complicated, so if they do so, maybe likely with a fairly simplified, system-requirements-wise not so hungry model and algorithm.)

      1. RandomMallard (@)
        4th December 2021, 21:41

        Jockey Ewing I play the Codemasters F1 games quite a lot, and my general understanding is that they do model dirty air, but it has less of an effect on the trailing car than in real life. However, somewhat countering this is the fact that the game doesn’t model slipstream or DRS very well, both being less powerful than in real life. The effect of those two factors go someway to cancelling each other out, but not entirely, and I expect overtaking to be harder in real life than in the game (and one of the DRS zones is in the wrong place in real life, but considering the track was in the game before it was finished in real life, I’m willing to forgive that).

        As for your second question, games like Forza and Gran Turismo don’t factor in dirty air much at all, but things like Assetto Corsa (and Assetto Corsa Competizione) and iRacing do. But of course not 100% accurate because hat would be impossible on a regular PC. There’s a reason the teams essentially use supercomputers for LFD

      2. I am not sure, I have seen a “how to tackle the Eau Rouge + Raidillon combo” video, but since then I forgot whether it was IRL or some simulator content, but there they advised to keep a bit of distance from the wall at the downhill run towards the Eau Rouge, because if you are too close to the wall the turbulences or some other aerodynamic phenomenon is causing some problem, thus the run will be less good. Is any racing game simulating effects of wakes/turbulences like that?

        1. Assetto Corsa Competizione does, according to Aristotelis Vasilakos, one of the developers, who has a very interesting YouTube channel (Aris.Drives) for those who like simracing. And I believe him. I lost control of an Audi R8 GT3 at the long downhill straight at Bathurst by following another car too close when going over a slight crest. If the F1 games (which I play, although less frequently) do, the effect seems less obvious to me.

      3. Thanks for the answers RandomMallard and José Abreu!
        If I will have more time, I will watch some content from the channel of Aristotelis Vasilakos then, bookmarked.

  3. Certainly an impact that significant warrants a gearbox change….even if they don’t detect any damage upon inspection, the team would be taking a significant risk in putting that gearbox on track Sunday and hoping it doesn’t fail over the course of the race distance. Surely they must take their medicine, play it safe and replace the box. If they don’t replace the box and it goes, they will be kicking themselves….that could really be game over for both the driver’s and constructor’s championships.

  4. I love F1 but… how can you get excited by a track where the only view is almost idenical sidewall and fences with almost no hope of overtaking (ie racing). Every corner looks pretty similar so what is the point of watching, it’s just like simulator? Monaco should be the only street race in F1, just saying.

    1. If the drivers praise it due to the challenges it offering, then it can not be that bad. As a track I like it, mainly because of the challenge. I think the ideas and directions which ones the drivers and F1 engineers like, are most often better to the sport (so to the spectators as well), than the ideas and directions with which the owners and the marketing specialists are coming up. Imo if a sport is spectacular by itself then there is no need to “spice up the show”. But that would require a good amount of honesty.

      The spectacle could be helped/improved a lot by the TV Director, with choosing to broadcast more footage from a distance, instead of close up shots (visibility/recognisability of sponsor logos? meh). So from a higher distance, to show 2-3-4 cars on the same picture at most of the time, instead of close up shots. So imo this kind of track is fairly well broadcastable with a lot of aerial shots, that would help the spectators to sense the track and the action better.

      Ok headbobbing due to the forces is nice, we can see how they are turning the steering wheel and so on, but as it is, and another overly zoomed in shots are taking up a significant duration of the GP races world feed footage, no wonder that the perception of speed and dynamics, and efforts and intentions are a bit less well broadcasted. Imo this is why sometimes felt bored or “disconnected” during the GPs, because often they are not showing the big picture. And as I perceive there are less onboards compared to the previous few decades (maybe it is a way to turn world feed spectators into buyers of the premium paid services – although I am jealous of those who can buy it and watch it from the selected POV, that is not bad at least).

      + Maybe the next seasons’ cars will race better on narrow and street like tracks. Or hopefully that time will come soon, because imo it is way more honest to build cars which can race well on many of the already existent nice tracks, then spending billions to build new venues, just because the cars became too big, and they are not that nimble currently.
      The first approach is honest towards green goals, that is honest towards planet Earth.

      + Probably they sould lower or remove some of the kerbs, as some of those already caused problems.

      1. …..overly zoomed in shots are taking up a significant duration of the GP races world feed footage, no wonder that the perception of speed and dynamics, and efforts and intentions are a bit less well broadcast…

        Totally agree. The first time I attended an F1 race I was absolutely blown away with the speed carried through corners. The constant zooming in on a car through a corner destroys any sense of speed. It’s only when the camera stays at the same focus and follows a car through and out do you get any feeling for the incredible speed and g forces. Please, directors, learn a bit about racing; it’s okay not to have the screen filled by a car all the time…..

  5. I just hope and pray those nasty people at Mercedes don’t tell Bottas to take Max out…. especially Toto is more unsporting than that so…..let’s hope Bottas just let’s Max and Lewis Duke it out

    1. Since Brazilian GP every driver is allowed to try to cause a collision, but if it doesn’t work and the other driver avoids the collision, then leaving a track and gaining an advantage is also allowed. Bottas should use this new FIA “rule”.

      1. Haha Bulgarian, on your avatar image, is it Hill and Schumacher before their (in)famous moment?
        If yes, then it is very fitting at the current moment :) As a child I was a big Schumacher fan. Although by that time I cheered for Damon Hill. Hill is one of my evergreen favourites when it comes to F1 persons, I’m just happy to see him any time, as he is a true gentleman who never disappointed me.

      2. @bulgarian

        there is better alternative: put erikje as the head steward for every race for consistency, we will know who will win consistently before any race started, heck before even the season started :) i would confidently bet against one driver but the odds would be so minimal :)

        1. She’s completely unbiased except for Max; she has the super hots for him.

    2. You mean you hope Bottas doesn’t pull a Max on Max?

      1. More likely a Hamilton move (c) on max.

    3. Oooh those NASTY men and women at Mercedes! Boohoo, hissssssss!
      You are comical Woody

    4. Valtteri Bottas has a job to do and it is to take out the other Merc, not Max. Sweet retaliation for so much humiliation

  6. If Max doesn’t jump Bottas at the start, I wonder at which lap Bottas will waive Max through like he did in Mexico and Sochi.

  7. For sure! This GP is FAR from finished. Think it’s going to be something of a lottery today. Expect shunts, crashes, safety cars and red flags.

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