The 2024 Mexican Grand Prix will be held at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez

Red Bull fixed “issue” with poor starts early in season – Verstappen

Formula 1

Posted on

| Written by

Max Verstappen praised the progress his team made improving his starts after scoring his second consecutive win from off the front row of the grid in Mexico.

The Red Bull driver lined up behind Ferrari’s two drivers at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on Sunday but took the lead by the first corner. In the standing restart after the race was red-flagged Verstappen held on to his first place without difficulty.

His team mate Sergio Perez also made a rapid getaway from the grid when the grand prix began, going from fifth place to third and then attempting to take the lead at turn one. That resulted in a race-ending crash in front of his home fans, but as Red Bull team principal Christian Horner pointed out “he had probably his best start of the season” before then.

Horner acknowledged the RB19’s standing starts have been among its few weaknesses. “Starts haven’t been probably our strongest asset this year, but certainly the three starts we had today were all rocketships,” he said Horner. “So on this day in history, with the conditions and the Tarmac and the altitude and everything, the guys got it just right.”

After taking his record-breaking 16th grand prix win of the season, Verstappen spoke about the significance of his strong start which almost immediately turned Red Bull’s race strategy into managing the pace from the front rather than pressuring Ferrari for the lead.

“I think that start definitely made it a bit easier for me in the first stint,” said Verstappen.

Getting away well was especially important in Mexico because of the long run to turn one, and especially challenging because of the low grip levels at the circuit.

Verstappen said a lot of preparation had gone into improving their starts. “It’s just doing our procedures a bit better: Understanding the tyre grip, clutch settings, I think we just have been probably a bit more sharp on that,” Verstappen explained after Sunday’s race.

“At the beginning of the year, we had a bit of an issue but then we fixed the issue but then I think we still didn’t do the right thing with tyre temperature, clutch settings. It’s all very sensitive.

“If you’re just next to it, you might have too much wheelspin or not enough engagement. It’s very difficult to get right and I think today especially it was very good.”

After winning the United States Grand Prix’s sprint race, Verstappen praised Red Bull’s control engineer Michael Manning for improving his starts. The next day he won the grand prix from sixth on the grid.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Mexican Grand Prix

Browse all 2023 Mexican Grand Prix articles

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

7 comments on “Red Bull fixed “issue” with poor starts early in season – Verstappen”

  1. Can anyone explain for me how a team can fix the start issue, apart from changing the gear ratios? It seems to me that anything else would be in the realms of traction control, driver aids, etc, which are all banned technologies. So what am I missing?

    1. Perhaps it’s about how the clutch engages as the paddle is released.
      Or maybe adjusting the engine mapping to reduce torque at launch engine speeds in 1st and 2nd gears

    2. I assume this is a legitimate question.
      Gear ratios are (fixed for the whole season and) nearly irrelevant given how wide the power band is and the torque available to the wheels in first gear at lower revs vs the longitudinal grip of the tires at low speed.

      Tire temperature is the biggest variable you can adjust. Carcass and surface temperatures, so the loads over the warm up lap and the final burnouts getting to the line plus the rear brake temps. While you wait until the last car is on the grid and the red light sequence, the heat is transferring.
      The other big thing is the clutch. I wish I knew more about this… I think there is some fine tuning going on at every practice start from the pits and the launch for the formation lap. Maybe they learned better how to apply this calibration to the actual race start. Also maybe the hydraulic actuators had an issue and didn’t perform precisely or consistently enough to the driver input.
      Or maybe the drivers couldn’t see the red lights and they are wearing corrective lenses now.

      1. as dusty said engine maps and gear ratios are fixed, apart from reaction times. otherwise pretty much science/conditions about starts are same for almost all (unless someone found super legal traction control) tyre/brake temps rev range dont stall and dont over do it. after start is the real speed comes from engine/gearbox modes/ratios

        1. Thank you David, Dusty, and Mystic for the intelligent replies to my question. And Dusty, yes, it was a genuine question, not a rhetorical one.

          I am puzzled by this because, as you point out, gear ratios etc are fixed, and launch control was outlawed years ago, so you’d think it would be all down to the driver and their skill at setting up the clutch bite point correctly in their practice starts, and then applying the right amount of power at the right time, so they get maximum power down without passing the traction threshold. As far as I know, the gearbox and clutch technology is still the same as in previous years. So I was surprised to see Sainz’s comments about Ferrari needing to sort out the launch issues, as if it was a car design problem rather than a driver skill, and in this article, MV praises the RB team for fixing start issues.

          After writing the above para, followed by a lot of rummaging through the web, I found a site called “Formula 1 dictionary” which says:

          “Towards the end of the warm-up lap the driver will conduct a process called Bite Point Find, initiated from a button on the steering wheel, where the clutch is released and the electronics detect the drop in revs and the clutch position is recorded in the software. On this lap driver will set car eletronics to ‘Race Start’ engine mapp mode. This maping will adjust settings of engine mixture, rpm limit, gearshift and pedal maps to their optimum for the best start.”

          So the driver doesn’t even have to set the bite point themselves any more?

      2. Either a map or using brake temps seems by the far the most likely. Hell, hot brakes literally delaminated Magnussen’s LR tie rod. So, yeah, using brakes to keep tire temps up while remaining still on the grid (and the brakes getting cooled to manageable levels) would seem a great candidate.

  2. Nice bit of fine-tuning on the old traction control

Comments are closed.