Sprint race start, Circuit of the Americas, 2023

Verstappen praises his “start guy” Manning after sprint race victory

Formula 1

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Max Verstappen praised the Red Bull’s control engineer Michael Manning who worked on improving his starts after claiming victory in yesterday’s sprint race.

Standing starts have been one of few areas in Red Bull’s dominant 2023 campaign that might be described as a weakness.

Verstappen lost two places at the start in the sprint race at Losail two weeks ago, though that was largely to drivers who had started on softer tyres than he did. He hasn’t lost his advantage from pole position in a grand prix since Lando Norris took the lead off him at Silverstone eight rounds ago.

Nonetheless Verstappen was pleased by his getaway in Austin, where he immediately swept across to the left of the track to prevent Charles Leclerc from attacking on the inside.

Speaking to his team on the radio afterwards Verstappen said: “Well done Manning, great job there.” He explained afterwards he was crediting “my start guy” for his rapid getaway. “I mean, the poor guy has had a few tough races, so I was just joking like that it wasn’t too bad this time.”

Manning, Red Bull’s senior trackside control engineer, joined the team in 2011. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the team have been working to address inconsistency in their start performance this season.

“We’ve had some variable starts this year and it was a bit of banter that Max is giving to one of his performance engineers that focuses on start control,” said Horner. “It’s light-hearted banter that shows the tight relationship that there is within the team.

“The only problem is there’s about two billion people listening to it.”

Verstappen’s radio after sprint race win

SpeakerMessage
Gianpiero LambiaseWell done, Max.
Max VerstappenSimply, simply lovely that.
Christian HornerYeah that was a very strong Saturday, Max, well done mate.
VerstappenYeah pace was good.
LambiaseIt’ll be a bit more fun tomorrow, mate.
VerstappenOh and well done Manning, great job there.
LambiaseOkay so easy on the way in please, Max. Pick up where you can. That was a well-driven race the in the first few laps, mate. Tactically done. Nice job. Worked well I think, that.
VerstappenYeah, the DRS was quite strong at the beginning but it was okay.

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6 comments on “Verstappen praises his “start guy” Manning after sprint race victory”

  1. This is an example of why drivers don’t improve over time, and aren’t better than drivers from the 1950s. There may be tiny gaps between them all nowadays and they are all very close to the absolute limit, but here you see that Max Verstappen has a ‘start guy’, one person who is an expert to train him specifically on how to do standing starts, and he probably has someone like this on every aspect of being a Formula 1 driver. Ascari, Fangio and Moss would never have had that in their day, they would have had to work it out for themselves. I am simply trying to say that drivers are closer to the absolute limit today because of all the help they get to do that, including things like telemetry and simulators as well, and not because they are actually better than drivers of the past. I think the top drivers of all eras are similarly talented, and average drivers maybe have improved a bit but not nearly to the extent that mathematical models would have us believe, for these reasons.

    1. So many words and you can’t even seem to grasp that there’s a difference between an electronic clutch on an advanced piece of technology versus a mechanical clutch on a basic 50s era engine. So close, yet so far.

      The “start guy” isn’t there for training Max.

      1. Thought you might go ahead and tell us what the “start guy” does then..

      2. It seems quite clear what @f1frog is explaining; call it diminishing returns in F1.

        Ans yes, Michael Manning (aka Start Guy) is there to set up the clutch and to train Max on the starting procedure.

        PS as Horner called it ‘light-hearted banter’ I woud almost guess the “well done” was meant sarcastically, but I would not know why.

    2. not nearly to the extent that mathematical models would have us believe,

      There are a diversity of math models but most of them place Jim Clark, Alberto Ascari, Jackie Stewart and JM Fangio in very high positions. Of the last generation drivers (since Michael Schumacher’s domination) only Fernando Alonso scores consistently high, but Max should be soon up there in the GOAT shortlist if his consistent domination goes on for a couple of years more.
      I was intrigued by a recent model I watched described in a YouTube video (I do not have the reference, sorry) which ranked pilots according to the number of teammates they had dominated. My personal favorite JM Fangio was second with a 9 to 0 score, but the best was Alain Prost with 10 to 0. I always had Le Proffesseur very high in my personal reckoning and found his rankings in most math models ridiculously low (e.g. 20th in f1metrics, behind drivers like Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton or Daniel Ricciardo), so I kinda liked that one.
      But anyway I do not share the opinion that math models overrate recent drivers. In most of them old-timers are highly valued, and rightly so in my opinion.

      1. The most impressive thing about Alain Prost’s record is who those ten teammates were. I don’t think any driver in history had a tougher set of teammates throughout their career, and yet, if you add up their total points in all races as teammates, even accounting for dropped scores, Prost beat every single one of them overall. His teammates included five world champions (Niki Lauda, Keke Rosberg, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill), three strong race winners, widely considered to be among the best of their era (John Watson, Rene Arnoux, Jean Alesi) and two drivers widely considered to be among the greatest never to win a race (Eddie Cheever, Stefan Johansson), and he properly dominated both of them. Statistically, I think Alain Prost is the greatest driver ever, although subjectively I favour Jim Clark, Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Stirling Moss.

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