(L to R): Carlos Sainz Jr, Ferrari, Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Monza, 2023

Vasseur impressed Verstappen has ‘not done a single mistake over two seasons’

2023 Italian Grand Prix

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Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur praised rival Max Verstappen in the wake of his record-breaking 10th consecutive grand prix victory.

Vasseur said the world champion’s ability to minimise mistakes has been key to his success over the last two seasons.

He admitted Ferrari hoped to force Verstappen into a mistake by putting him under pressure at last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, but it proved to no avail.

Carlos Sainz Jnr led the first 14 laps of the race before being passed by Verstappen. The Ferrari driver remained his closest rival until Red Bull’s Sergio Perez passed him with six laps to go.

“After a weekend like this you can say that we are not that far away, that it’s perhaps in term of pace during the weekend one or two tenths, not much more to stay in front,” said Ferrari team principal Vasseur.

“But it is like it is, they are still in front and they are, most of them, not doing mistakes. At least this weekend, I was expecting that by putting Max under pressure or into the fight, he could do some mistakes, but it was not the case at all this weekend, again.”

Although Verstappen did not buckle last weekend, Vasseur hoped to put him under pressure again in the future. “Let’s try again,” he said. “Let’s stay close to the two Red Bulls and it will be the best way to fight and perhaps to put them a little bit more under pressure.

“I think what is impressive is – for sure they always have the mega pace, from Monza to Monaco, you can cover all the aspects of the track, they were performing – this is impressive.

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“But the most impressive for me is that Max, it’s not just about the last 10 races, it’s about the last two years. I would say that he didn’t do a single mistake in the races.

“For sure it’s easier to not do mistakes when you have a margin on the others. But even in these kind of circumstances [at Monza], he’s able to manage the situation very well, he put some pressure on Carlos but never too much and then didn’t take risks.

“He knew that he had a difference of pace. He was convinced, I think like Checo did on the first weekend [in Bahrain], that if it’s not possible during the first stint it will be around the pit stop.”

That assessment proved correct, as Verstappen finally got past Sainz a few laps before both pitted. Vasseur admitted he realised before their pit stop that their tyre degradation would be too great to keep Verstappen behind.

“I was not very, very confident in the fight with Max after lap 10, when I saw that the pace was there and he had no degradation. I said ‘it will be quite difficult’. But overall, I think it’s in these kind of races where he was the most impressive, but to not do a single mistake over two seasons, it’s just mega.”

Red Bull also extended its record-breaking run of consecutive wins last weekend. Team principal Christian Horner said avoiding errors had been key to that.

“You’ve got to stay on top of your game,” Horner said. “And for me, that’s the most remarkable achievement this year so far, that we haven’t dropped the ball. We’ve managed to keep operating at an incredibly high level. And that’s something that’s not been seen before.”

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2023 Italian Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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43 comments on “Vasseur impressed Verstappen has ‘not done a single mistake over two seasons’”

  1. Meanwhile both Ferrari drivers have made countless mistakes, which only means they have to drive cars at least 0.2-0.3s/lap quicker than Max’s Red Bull to even have an illusion of beating him. Good for Vasseur though he acknowledges that, unless some other team principal who thinks delivering 100% in almost every race is a Wikipedia fact, rather than amazing achievement.

    1. Yeah, these kind of things are what makes me respect Vasseur all the more (letting the guys race last race weekend was also one) – he is as impressed by Max seemingly not making any mistakes for so long as we all are.

      1. he is as impressed by Max seemingly not making any mistakes for so long as we all are.

        I’m impressed how many people haven’t noticed the mistakes.
        Everyone points to the mistake of Perez shop-stoppingly putting it into the wall in qualy, no one seems to recall Verstappen getting away with bouncing it off the wall in Q3. The latter was a bit of a heart in mouth moment for the team.

  2. Well, in fact he has made some mistakes. In Hungary 2022 he massively outbraked himself in his first (later we knew it was his only) Q3 attempt and started P10, and then in race he made a full 360º.

    Why Max won that race is a good question for their rivals, some Lewis “my DRS didn’t work in Q3” Hamilton and some Charles “HARDS?” Leclerc.

    And what about his off-road trip in Spain 2022?

    Mercedes and Ferrari are also guilty of letting Max and Red Bull have this massive run.

    1. You have to remember personal mistake or engine mapping errors are different things…
      The 360 Spin was to warmup his tyres as he said during interviews… It was very wet and i think that was more the engine mapping which wasn’t ideal for those conditions.
      Spain 2022 was not only him who went off that corner could be tyres which didn’t work something in my memory thought something like that.
      Mistakes are going off and don’t continue or lockups everytime those are personal errors.

      1. It was gusty in turn 4 and the wind caught him out, it caught Sainz and Max both.

        1. Yes, and what I wanted people to notice is how leclerc, the best driver in that race, didn’t make that mistake despite the wind being present, and was miles ahead until he had that mechanical failure.

          1. That can because Wind isn’t constant so when Charles came to that corner the wind could be on his lowest and when Sainz came in that corner the wind was stronger.
            I had forgotten why Max went of the wind could be a major factor.

      2. Not sure where you got the “very wet” idea, it was a bone dry race. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZF-w__uUs8c

        1. I think we were talking about 2 different races i was talking about a very wet track when he made a 360 i think you can see it on the short memes and the interview after that one when he said (joking) he was warming up his tyres.

          You were talking about the last corner in the cycane when the motor mapping caught max out. (he was complaining several races back then)

  3. I’m more impressed by vasseur’s short memory, unless spinning 360 degrees isn’t making mistakes, or going wide.

    1. Not to mention the singapore stuff, that was a really bad race, even if starting further back wasn’t his fault.

    2. True… Hungary 2022, Barcelona 2022 as well. Singapore there were mistakes throughout raceday.

      Ferrari weren’t good enough to capitalise on those mistakes.. but there were mistakes made by Max over the past two seasons.

  4. Verstappen has made mistakes, albeit relatively small ones, but they’ve gone without consequences for his results because he has no real competition. That’s a failure on the part of the other eight teams.

    Singapore 2022 was probably the only one where the track conspired against him to prevent a return to P1. He messed up qualifying by not sticking to the planned number of laps and then had a uninspired race.

    1. He did not mess up qualifying. His pitwall did. They told him to unnecessarily abort a lap 8 tenths up on everybody and again told him to come to the pits at the end of his final run.

      The track didn’t even do much that day. Of the 16 overtakes he had 10 of them, and after everything he did gain a position and was rapid in clean air.

      The only comedy moment was that huge lockup but even that was because the car just bottomed out and he had to get that move done to have any shot of a podium.

      I’d certainly say his race at Spain was weaker than the one at Singapore, even if he won that race. Had an okok qualifying even with the DRS fail, and went on a gravel trip, which potentially lost him a win given RBs looked quite competitive on the mediums in FP2, then was stuck behind Russell and profited from a Ferrari DNF to win. Probably one of his worse wins.

    2. Verstappen has made mistakes, albeit relatively small ones, but they’ve gone without consequences for his results because he has no real competition.

      True. It seems no one, including team principals, takes note of mistakes that have no negative consequence. I’ll leave it to others to dig up the mistakes from the other prominent drivers on track and their team strategists.

      That’s a failure on the part of the other eight teams.

      The first failure was that the other teams agreed to a set of regulations that played to the strengths of one team.

      The second failure was in those rival teams, agreed. Mercedes blindly following data and simulations and creating a fast car with unstable air flow in the ground effect, Ferrari for, yet again, putting their ingenuity into designing a method of hiding an illegal floor setup rather than designing a really good floor setup. They lost competitiveness when the tests for compliance were changed, and they had to modify to ensure compliance.
      Here’s hoping their announced “revolution” rather than “evolution” for the 2024 car produces something truly competitive, and that Mercedes get their act together.
      Aston Martin, Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, and RBR all competing closely would be good for all – fans, teams, F1, FIA.

      1. Ferrari for, yet again, putting their ingenuity into designing a method of hiding an illegal floor setup rather than designing a really good floor setup.

        This is why Binotto should have been sacked the second Ferrari was forced to ‘settle’ with the FIA over their 2019 engine shenanigans. Once a designer goes down that road and gets a taste for the easy results it promises, it’s very likely they’ll do it again.

      2. What defines a mistake? I guess when his has negative consequences. Makes sense to me.

  5. It’s similar to the post-Rosberg Hamilton years, you can tell there’s a self-assuredness within Max from knowing there’s no real competition from the rest of the grid, including from the other side of the garage.
    His level of confidence is pretty evident from the radio messages between Max and Lambiase, particularly at Monza.

  6. His 2022 was certainly his weakest since 2018 in my opinion.

    It could also be simply getting in terms with the new regulations of cars and learning again. Moreover the title fight of 2021 must have taken its toll. It’s a bit telling I’m saying this given he won 15 races.

    2023 has been good as well except he did make mistakes like the qualifying in Miami or generally only getting his tools sorted at Baku towards the end of the race.

    But yeah, relative to other drivers he still has probably made less costlier and less mistakes just in number. Can’t say I’m not impressed though.

    Good of Fred to acknowledge a good driver.

    1. It wasn’t a bad year imo for verstappen, however it’s just wrong to say he made no mistakes like vasseur said, he made more mistakes than leclerc, the car made the difference.

      1. In terms of count? Maybe, although I doubt it. In terms of magnitude? Certainly not.

  7. Formula 1 fan
    7th September 2023, 8:17

    What a difference in response of Ferrari vs Mercedes.
    Of course Max also made mistakes during the past seasons, but he is extremely consistent now. You cannot win 10 in a row and be this dominant for so long if you are not.
    It would just be great if Mercedes acknowledged it as well.
    I like Vasseur actually, I am keen to see what he can do with Ferrari the next few seasons, there seems to me more calmness in the organisation, pitstops are good (yes Zandvoort might have been different, but that was actually Leclercs call and also Perez had the same issue) the strategy is ok, still some mistakes, but a lot better then the ordering menu we had last year. I would still make some changes to the team at the pitwall, I am not sure the engineers are at the right level, and there might be some changes coming in the design department as well. If Fred gets the support he needs he might have a good shot at it.

  8. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    7th September 2023, 9:55

    Is causing a collision a mistake or some premeditated move? Brazil 2022.

    1. Exactly. People seem to forget about those incidents, strangely.

      1. Didn’t forget that, but when you have someone behind with a rocketship, like mercedes was in the last 4 races, and you know if your opponent wins all races he wins the title too, you have to try something, and verstappen did with that extreme defense in brazil.

        He still couldn’t keep hamilton behind because he passed him in the straight after.

      2. Ah, ops, my answer was about 2021 ofc, 2022 was an extreme attacking move, like he had nothing to lose, and red bull was pretty slow that race. I’d lean on the premeditated move.

    2. I was thinking about this one too. Essentially the biggest error by Verstappen since the start of the 2022 season.

      Whilst he does generally run mostly error free, he does make some minor errors at most races, ranging from track limits, an occasional spin, etc. His race craft has improved massively over the past couple of seasons and generally is a very consistent driver.

  9. There comes a point where a car/driver combination is so dominant that any mistakes they do make cease to matter. Like Hamilton’s infamous comment about Vettel, in his prime, that he could miss four apexes on a qualifying lap in his Red Bull and still end up with pole position.

    That’s where Red Bull are now, again, with Verstappen. A few people have pointed out some minor errors he’s made, like spinning in Spain and Hungary last year, but in neither case did it stop him from winning the race.

    The impressive thing is not that 100% of the errors have disappeared, but that both Verstappen and Red Bull have avoided the kind of major blunders that can cost you a race win; I was talking about Mercedes’ 2020 season the other day and how they threw away a number of wins with mistakes. Even in challenging wet/dry conditions RB seem to have got the calls pretty much perfect, every time. Operating at that level deserves respect, even if it’s not *quite* as flawless as Vasseur implies.

    1. It would’ve stopped him from winning the race in spain though, the only reason he won is leclerc, who was miles ahead, had a mechanical failure. Arguably, he also only won hungary because of a bad strategy by ferrari.

      1. He was winning Hungary irrespective of what Ferrari did. His pace was something else. He was only a few seconds behind Leclerc after the 2nd set of stops and gained around 6 to 7 seconds just via undercuts. Ferrari was just slow. The race up until that point flattered them with Verstappen out of position. Hard tires potentially helped Max with the win after his spin but it’s impossible to say if he’d spin if Leclerc had the mediums on.

    2. But indeed, they avoided those blunders, though I’d be curious if verstappen would be able to recover from a stop and go penalty, so far this year no one that isn’t in a red bull managed to finish ahead of verstappen any race.

    3. @red-andy Good comment. People forget too that dominance means less pressure to make mistakes and more pressure on rivals, forcing them into mistakes. Minor mistakes tend to get forgotten.
      Personally I think Verstappen drove like a championship contender (still) until Spa 2022: since then he’s driven like a champion at ease in the best car. So by the time 2023 came round and he was initially unhappy with some aspects of the car, with Perez closer in times, his response was calm and then emphatic. He makes mistakes but they’ve been within a parameter he can control (while Perez in the same car has made some huge costly mistakes).

    4. There was also a serious strategic blunder in Monaco this year, staying out too long before putting on the wet. Fred could have easily won there. But he and/or the team made the very same mistake. So that’s a tie in blunders and of course ceteris parings Max won.

  10. He matured so much after 2021. He had to put everything into that title challenge and often a little more. But once that title was out of the way, he was able to evolve into what he is now and hasn’t put a foot wrong since.
    It’s his ability to perform at such a high level, so consistently that’s even more impressive than his outright speed.

    I’ve been a Hamilton supporter since his debut in Melbourne and he’ll always be my boy. You can have a favourite driver and still respect, admire and even think others are better at the same time

    1. A thing to keep in mind is he’s also been under less pressure than 2021, for example the 2022 season didn’t really evolve in a tough championship fight, it was over by france realistically.

      It’s easier to not make mistakes when you have no pressure, that’s generally the same situation as hamilton in the dominant years, although he hasn’t delivered as consistently.

  11. Well, he did. He got lucky at Monaco for instance.

    It’s tiny errors, mostly. But the rest of the field is so far away that they don’t matter…

  12. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    7th September 2023, 13:17

    I guess that’s the difference between Vasseur and Toto and why Ferrari don’t stand a chance of winning a championship. All of you have short memories but when Mercedes was winning, Horner was running around on Drive To Survive mumbling “effing Mercedes”. That’s exactly what Vasseur should be saying after this weekend because he should still be pissed that his team didn’t win at Monza. That’s what you want in your team principal.

    Also, Leclerc should have been putting pressure on Max to give Carlos a chance to break away.

    Not going around praising the other team and making them look better than they really are. His job is to elevate the confidence of his drivers to believe they can make the difference.

  13. Maybe a discussion on what is a real mistake is in order. Max has maybe minor mistakes that didn’t lead to car damage unlike other drivers. He doesn’t damage the car and doesn’t damage other driver’s cars… A spin or going wide or a small lockup is not what Vasseur means when he says “mistake”…

  14. We need Max at Ferrari to make F1 more interesting imo. Red Bull / Max combo is just overpowered, i’d love to see him at a less performing team to see the difference he can make

    1. He is much better as the hunter and made F1 worth watching during the Merc era for sure.

      Maybe RB will drop the ball soon and we will be back to Thank Goodness for Verstappen!

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        7th September 2023, 16:38

        He is much better as the hunter and made F1 worth watching during the Merc era for sure.

        Maybe RB will drop the ball soon and we will be back to Thank Goodness for Verstappen!

        People have been complaining about Lewis’ move on Piastri which was about half or maybe a full tyre too deep. In 2021, if we used tyres as our unit-of-measure, Max was pushing Lewis 10-20 tyres off the track every time they were on track. In all cases, Lewis took evasive action but he held his ground once at Silverstone and we saw what happened there and after that at Monza where Max should have been a single to multipe season ban depending on how good the stewards are.

        Let’s not talk about Monza and the season ban that he should have received for that.

        Care to revise your hunting statement to make it more sensible or more aligned with reality as opposed to final fantasy?

  15. He’s been impressive, but that’s not true.
    That messy Singapore race last year was all on him.

    He was the faster guy on track by a landslide and kept messing the last sector on Q3 until they got out of fuel and time for another lap.

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