Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2023

Verstappen “very lucky” after near-miss in Q2 provokes radio tiff with engineer

2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says he was “very lucky” to reach Q3 in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix after he was tenth in Q2

Verstappen set the fastest time in Q3 to sit on the top of the times at the end of a challenging grand prix qualifying session, but will start in sixth for Sunday’s race after serving a five-place grid penalty for using his fifth gearbox of the season.

But the championship leader was almost knocked out of the second session of qualifying after only just getting through to Q3 in tenth place, three tenths of a second quicker than Yuki Tsunoda. Verstappen had pitted for soft dry tyres half way through Q2 but then ran off the circuit at turn nine on his first timed lap, backing off as he knew he would lose the lap for exceeding track limits.

“I went wide, I went over the white line. What should I do?,” Verstappen asked race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase.

“Just keep up the pace, Max.” Lambiase replied, with Verstappen answering “but my lap will be cancelled, mate.”

With less than three-and-a-half minutes of the session remaining, Lambiase was anxious. “There’s not a lot of margin to complete the push-slow-push, Max,” he said.

“Why don’t we just push two, then?” Verstappen queried, suggesting he immediately attempted a second flying lap when he completed the current one.

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“No, tyres will be too hot,” Lambiase explained, conscious that he needed his driver to be pushing at the chequered flag on the final lap with a full ERS battery. “You’ll be fine, just complete the lap.”

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Spa-Francorchamps, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Belgian Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
Verstappen completed a slow cool-down lap before eventually crossing the line with just under 10 seconds remaining. He set a 1’52.784, squeezing through into Q3 in tenth place. On his way back to the pits, Verstappen was seemingly unhappy over the radio at having come so close to elimination.

“I should have [censored by FOM] pushed two laps in a row like I said,” he told his engineer.

“But you’re through, Max,” Lambiase retorted before his driver replied “yeah, but I don’t give a [censored by FOM] if I’m through in P10. It’s just [censored by FOM] execution.”

Lambiase sarcastically responded “okay, and when the track was two seconds quicker for your final lap and you didn’t have any energy left, how would that have gone down?

“But you tell me what you want to do in Q3 and we’ll do it. Let me know – sets, fuel, run plan…”

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Speaking after the session, Verstappen said he had been fortunate to make it through into Q3.

“It was very tight,” he said. “Of course the conditions, they are very tricky.

“The track was really drying quickly and my final lap, I just didn’t have that confidence in Q2 to push more and I was very lucky to be in P10.”

After reaching Q3, Verstappen said he was able to take more risks on his flying laps as he took almost two seconds off his first push lap in the final phase to set the fastest time.

“Of course, in Q3 you have two tyre sets, you know that you can push a little bit more, you can risk a little bit more and that’s what we did on that final lap,” he said. “To be in pole again, I mean, I know that I have to drop back on Sunday with the penalty I have, but it was the best I could do today.”

After winning this race last year from starting 14th on the grid, Verstappen feels confident he can fight for a win from sixth.

“I mean last year I had more penalties and we could still win the race,” he said. “So that’s still the target on Sunday.

“But let’s first see also tomorrow what the weather will do and what kind of racing we will have.”

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2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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Author information

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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23 comments on “Verstappen “very lucky” after near-miss in Q2 provokes radio tiff with engineer”

  1. Max’s & GP’s radio comm after Q2-end was funny & the latter’s response was sligthly savage.

    1. slightly

  2. Why not the excuse max made to his engineer added?
    In the heat of the moment things slip, but it shows when you take responsibility for your behaviour.
    He did!

    1. Because he is the bad guy obviously. That info might give some people a more nuanced impression of him.

    2. Editorial line. Ignore the facts if they don’t fit the spoon-fed narrative

    3. Yeah, what to say? There has been a bias day 1. But more and more people are realising they have been led in a certain direction and now start to appreciate what is being displayed so that’s nice.

  3. To be honest I appreciate things can get heated but the way Max spoke with his engineer I personally thought was completely out of line, really unacceptable.
    Don’t get me wrong I totally get it using the odd swear word to make a point, but this sort of expletive leaden rant, in poor English as well, it’s just offensive.
    If GP was an engineer that regularly messed up (looking at you Ferrari) then I could give it a pass but at red bull they get it spot on for the vast majority of the time.

    1. How is it even your business to judge? You don’t know Max or his engineer nor how they deal with stuff.

      1. Because any decent employer should protect their people from bullying and abusive behaviour by other colleagues. Maybe his engineer didn’t mind the tone but its pretty unprofessional behaviour.

        1. I’ve competitively raced formula cars and run a race shop; I can testify that in the heat of the moment tempers rise. Yeah, protect people from abusive behavior, but also consider the pressure and situation. My experience is the moment passes quickly.

          I was running and crewing an FF2000 car for a driver in SCCA nationals; he clipped a cone and had to pit to have it removed from his rear suspension – except he was so fired up he ignored me at the front of the car and left as soon as the cone was removed and almost ran over a pit crew. What he didn’t know was that the nose was askew and we were going to fix it. After he left the pits Ken was livid, as he had almost been run over – we all sort of hoped the nose would fall off. Afterwards words were had but things got ironed out. It was actually a learning experience for all of us.

        2. Fred Fedurch
          29th July 2023, 5:54

          Doesn’t MB provide safe spaces for their employees to go to in the event of a disagreement?

        3. Not sure whether this should be true in an environment in which the objective is to perform at the utmost highest level. I am inclined to lean more in the direction of “if you can’t stand the heat…” and feel people commit to something special when you are part of performing at this level. Besides, they are always free to perform their trade elsewhere, in a less successful environment where all people are very nice to each other and he full potential is likely never reached because of it. Oh, and then there is the intentional leaving out of the apology part by the author..

    2. It just might be the difference between good and exceptional to always demand the best from yourself and everyone around you. Might be what others are lacking. It is not the local town hall meeting.

  4. He’ll never stop being a spoilt child. Will this thug ever grow up?

    1. I mean he could be in the comment section calling someone else a “thug” like us sophisticated people.

      1. This is a driver who finds himself in a position of social responsibility, a figurehead for the respectability of the sport, yet here he is spitting constant profanities, pushing his competitors off track, brake testing them, pushing Ocon’s off weighing scales, and making slurs against the disabled, whilst of course enjoying the spoils of stealing a championship and exceeding a cost cap. Says more about yourself that you’re so eager to defend someone like that.

        1. So you’re saying that you, as anonymous online account, have less social responsibility?

      2. Why bother, why feed them, just ignore them

    2. He did grow up and admitted GP was right and he was wrong. The relationship with GP is easily strong enough to deal with these squarrels.

  5. I like it that the audience is so at the forefront of the communications and has access to this. Struggling to find another sport where this is the case to that extent. It does come with its issues since not all people can handle the raw material as they are used to get the scripted PR version afterwards in many other sports and actually believe this represents the emotions of the athlete. I feel, especially in a sports environment performing at the very highest level there should be room for keeping each other real and on the sharp edge. I believe it is an element that significantly contributes to the success. One can debate the level/severity of language used but that is up to them and not us. I think the people involved know very well it is part of (winning) the game and a contributor to overall success. Especially these two, who have been challenging each other constantly. Especially when afterwards there is an apology, which puts the comment in a context of wanting to achieve the most as a team, keeping the eye on the ball and realising there might have also been a more nice way of conveying the message.

    1. Spot on. It’s good for the sport we get the unfiltered communications, and it adds so much to how we understand and appreciate characters like Kimi, Alonso, and Max.

      Gianpiero gave better than he got in the first exchange while also defusing things (I chuckled: he thinks well on his feet), so it’s clearly a relationship that goes both ways.

      My main regret is the number of comments we get for the benefit of the public or the stewards – they know everyone’s listening. I’d like to think Max pulled into his garage, cooled down, apologised on the spot and then planned with the team for Q3. But we don’t see that – so there’s a small bit of performance in repeating the apology at a point (just after fastest time) when he knows everyone else is listening. The unfiltered bits are always best.

  6. This spat was both informative and amusing as a casual observer. Shows how on-the-ball GP is, and how good his communication skills are. Equally Max verbalises his preferred plan rather than simply saying ‘leave me alone, I know what I’m doing’

  7. It’s hard to argue against accusations of media bias when the editor here conveniently left out Max’s apology to GP for his behaviour, which happened roughly 30 minutes after the rant in question. Present all the facts and let the reader form their own narrative.

    Frankly disgusted.

Comments are closed.