Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023

Verstappen: Red Bull reliability essential if title fight is between our cars

2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says Red Bull must ensure their cars are reliable as the fight for the world championship is likely to be between him and his team mate.

Red Bull’s drivers have finished first and second in the opening two races. Verstappen won the first round in Bahrain but Sergio Perez triumphed in yesterday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Verstappen’s victory hopes were hit when he suffered a driveshaft failure in qualifying on Saturday, which left him 15th on the grid. Although his Red Bull was quick enough for him to recover to second place, Verstappen said the team must improve its reliability to ensure both drivers have an equal chance in the championship.

“It’s not only about the pace of the car,” said the reigning world champion. “We need to make sure we are reliable without any issues.

“My first weekend was not very clean because of the big balance shift from testing to the race weekend and some other things which are going on in the background. Now again, after three positive practice sessions, of course I have an issue in qualifying.

“Of course I recovered to second which is good and in general the whole feeling in the team, everyone is happy. But personally, I’m not happy, because I’m not here to be second.

“Especially when you are working very hard back at the factory to make sure that you arrive here in a good state, and basically making sure that everything is spot on, and then you have to do a recovery race. Which I like, I don’t mind doing it, but when you’re fighting for a championship and especially when it looks like it’s just between two cars, we have to make sure that also the two cars are reliable.”

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While Perez took pole position and won the race, Verstappen doubts he could have beaten his team mate under the circumstances. “Realistically with or without the Safety Car I think P2 was the highest possible.”

Race start, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023
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Verstappen told his team he was concerned about a potential driveshaft failure as he pursued Perez in the closing stages of yesterday’s race.

“At one point I picked up again these vibrations on the driveshaft, on the rear. The team couldn’t see anything, but I’m fairly sure there was something odd going on with the balance since the vibration started to kick in.

“I did the calculations and I wouldn’t have been able to close that gap to the end with only 10 laps left. So, at one point, it’s I think more important to just settle for second and not having an issue with the car.

“In qualifying it just went, it snapped,” Verstappen added. “Today, luckily, it didn’t do that but it started to have a similar effect on the feeling of driving and what you could hear.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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28 comments on “Verstappen: Red Bull reliability essential if title fight is between our cars”

  1. #MaLaYsIa2016

    1. You just had to go there

      1. It’s a good point, since there was something like a 28 points swing, which is more than 5x the ending gap.

      2. @lucifer:
        It’s relevant though..

        Imagine Perez takes the title while Verstappen has one more DNF than him. All the crazies would crawl out again… different crazies, but the moaning would be just the same. Hell… but I guess you’re already one step ahead ;-)

  2. Perez is no Rosberg so unless Max gets Riccardo 2018 levels of reliability he got this in the bag.

    1. Verstappen vs. Ricciardo, 2018

      Qualified ahead: 14-5
      Finished ahead: 8-4
      Laps ahead: 746-217

  3. Just send Jos to look over the engineers’ and mechanics’ shoulders while they’re working. I’m surprised Jos didn’t break any of the mechanics fingers after quali or the race.

    1. At race 2 i think Jos looking friendly to the mechanics is enough for now ……..

  4. Neil (@neilosjames)
    20th March 2023, 14:00

    I think this one’s more Schumacher/Barrichello 2002-style than an actual ‘title fight’ between team-mates. Assuming the car remains as far ahead as it is, Verstappen could take 3 or 4 DNFs from the lead vs a 100% reliable Perez and the title would still be decided in Max’s favour before the final race.

    1. Yellow baron
      20th March 2023, 15:06

      Not if it plays out like this race after the safety car

      1. Indeed, perez impressed me the first 2 races, I didn’t think he’d be only 12 seconds behind (or so) in bahrain, nor did I think he’d have been able to hold off verstappen here.

        1. It’s interesting you mention 2002 because I was thinking about that year as well but in a completely different way.
          For me that’s one of those could-have seasons and a perfect example of how uneven reliability and bad luck can kill a championship between teammates. It was so bad that year. Way, way worse than it was in 2016.
          It was also Barrichello’s finest season in F1 by a long way. He was close to Schumacher almost everywhere, often faster, but he never got his championship campaign going.

          In the first 12 rounds BAR had only two trouble free races. In one he crashed on his own, but in the other nine he’s been taken out of the lead, had a safety car or a slow pitstop ruining his race, a ridiculous team order against him, 2 DNFs while leading, 2 DNSs and one other start from the back of the grid.

          Michael Schumacher on the other hand had no problems whatsoever (bar a broken frontwing which was his fault and which cost him absolutely nothing).

          Let’s do the math (for an admittedly Barrichello friendly but still realistic scenario given equal luck and reliability):
          1. Melbourne BAR 10 (+10), MSC 6 (-4) BAR retired from the lead. The only race that causes me headaches because one can very well argue that he played his part in the crash. But RSC did miss his braking point by some margin so I still blame him most.
          And had BAR survived the first corner he would have lead the way with MSC behind and in traffic.
          2. Malaysia: BAR 6 (+6), MSC 3 (-1) BAR retired from the lead. He was way ahead of Montoya and MSC, but wouldn’t have beaten his brother Ralf.
          3. Brazil: BAR 4 (+4), MSC 10 (+-0) BAR retired from the lead, but in the old car and on 2 stops he wouldn’t have beaten any of the Schumachers.
          4. Imola: BAR 6 (+-0), MSC 10 (+-0)
          5. Spain: BAR 6 (+6), MSC 10, (+-0) BAR DNS from second. No way he could have finished any lower, unlikely he would have finished higher.
          6. Austria: BAR 10 (+4), MSC 6 (-4) Self explaining.
          7. Monaco: BAR 0 (+-0), MSC 6 (+-0)
          8. Canada: BAR 10 (+6), MSC 6( -4) Bad safety car timing cost BAR a full pitstop, later MSC was very slow with blistered tyres)
          9. Nürburgring: BAR 10 (+-0), MSC 6 (+-0)
          10. Great Britain: BAR 6 (+-0), MSC 10 (+-0) BAR had to start from the back. It was wet and he spun at some point. So let’s give that one to Schumacher although Barrichello qualified ahead and did the fastest lap.
          11. France: BAR +10 (+10), MSC 6 (-4) BAR DNS again from third. Difficult as the race was pretty chaotic, but I think with MSC always in traffic and with a mid-race penalty it would have gone Barrichello’s way.
          12. Germany: BAR 6 (+3), MSC 10 (+-0) Slow second pitstop cost BAR second place.

          After 12 out of 17 rounds the score could have been:
          89 (instead of 106) for MSC
          84 (instead 35) for BAR.

          In the remaining 5 trouble free races BAR scored 42 and MSC 38 points.
          So at the end MSC would have 127 to BAR 126 points That’s close and represents their performance better than the ridiculous 67 points they ended apart.

          But if course the rest of the season cannot be taken seriously as Ferrari were playing games. Schumacher appeared to be faster for the reminder of the races bar Italy so he probably would have won the title by more than one point, but he at least had to fight for it.

          Perez seems to be on Barrichello 2002 form. Let’s hope he can keep it up and lady luck favours his side of the garage so he can at least keep the championship alive for a while.

  5. As much as I’d like a championship battle between them, considering other teams are unlikely to provide one, Checo outscoring Max over a season is highly unlikely, so the WDC is Max’s to lose.
    He’ll likely start running away in the points like Lewis in 2019 & ’20.

  6. If P15 to P2 gets Jos angry I want to see what he does if Checo will win the championship

    1. Do you remember toto wolff breaking the table when things went wrong? I expect something like that from jos!

      1. Jos would be more likely to break a person, particularly if they were female.

        1. He doesn’t have any problem to take on multiple men also ….

          1. I though he was homophobic…

  7. …of course I have an issue in qualifying.

    Since both cars are supposed to be identical, then that leaves the drivers as the difference between these two cars. There’s an old F1 adage of driving your car as slow as necessary to win the race. My suspicion is the early F1 drivers found out that going as fast as you can even when you are already winning a race was more likely to lead to the failure of some component. It is generally accepted that when a component is pushed outside of its design specification then it will fail. It is almost certain that driveshaft was tested before it left the factory to ensure it was within spec, which leaves us with a suspicion Max somehow contributed to this failure.
    Undoubtedly he is one of the best drivers on the grid, but claiming there’s some sort of conspiracy where people are trying to deny him his next WDC overlooks he was the only person who drove that car that weekend. According to a recent Racefans article “Max Verstappen completed a clean sweep of topping practice sessions for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah, going over half a second faster than team mate Sergio Perez.” While there’s an element of prestige in being fastest at the practice sessions, there’s more prestige in getting Pole Position, and again there’s more prestige in winning the Race. If Will Wood’s (@willwood) claim is true, and a quick glance at the timing charts suggests it is, then Max was pushing his car. Was it actually necessary to top the practice session timing charts? Why not let some of the other drivers have their moment of glory? As it is, this driveshaft failed during Qualifying and not during the Race, which is what might have happened, but another possibility is if Max was kinder to his car then the driveshaft would have lasted through Qualifying and the Race, which is what it was designed to do.

    1. @drycrust:
      That’s… reaching. Seriously reaching. Like inspector Gadget levels..
      All this on a sub-optimal use of words in English from a non native speaker?

      1. Really? What is wrong with his comment? And it is of bad taste mocking a person like that.
        And he is right. Checo was driving as slow as possible (called controlling the race) to beat Max this time.
        Feels like max was “revving” too much the engine until it failed.
        Or maybe checo sabotaged Max’s car?

        1. @Lucho:
          How am I mocking someone? I just expressed how I feel about his conclusions and specifically the gaps in reasoning to come to those conclusions. Nowhere did I say anything about @drycrust himself?

  8. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    20th March 2023, 21:34

    I hope verstappen has some much reliability issues or mistakes causing problems. He got away with a lot of mistakes last year with no punishment.

    1. @come-on-kubica: He isn’t faultless, but a lot of mistakes?

      1. A handful of mistakes, I would say, the most annoying is that I don’t think he made less mistakes than leclerc to be considered that much better last season, majority of the difference was the car.

        1. Max didn’t made any huge mistakes (i think only once a minor) while Charles made 3 huge ones….and a lot minors so what you are saying isn’t correct.

  9. Of course, from a driver perspective the last thing you want is a championship to be lost on mechanical failures. But at the end of the day that’s racing.

    If the drive shaft snapped again as he was pushing for the fastest lap, would he still be blaming the team? There are certainly choices a driver can make to limit them.

  10. The Verstappens have no diplomacy towards other human beings no matter what.
    Even when finishing second once in awhile, the hell with the other teammate.
    Study James Clark, especially on the humanness side, not just the racing accolades.

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