Verstappen’s engineer won’t look elsewhere after working with ‘one of the greatest’

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In the round-up: Max Verstappen’s long-time race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase says it wouldn’t be fair for him to work with another driver after his time alongside “one of the greatest” of all time.

In brief

Verstappen “one of the greatest talents” – Lambiase

Lambiase, who has been Verstappen’s race engineer since the driver joined the team at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix says he “sees Max as a younger brother.”

“We can talk about anything and anyone at any time,” he told the BBC. “We’re at the point where we just felt completely relaxed and at ease with each other.

“Maybe I am speaking out of turn, but I don’t think I would have any interest in working with another driver now.

“Having had the success that we have enjoyed together with Max, working with one of the greatest talents that the sport has ever seen, I don’t think it would be fair on another driver, from their perspective or mine, to try and replicate what we have achieved with Max.”

Palou not keen on heats format

Alex Palou’s victory in IndyCar’s inaugural $1 Million Thermal Challenge hasn’t made him a fan of the heats format used for the non-championship race. He said he “wouldn’t like” to see it go into regular use.

“It’s good to have one or two, to have like some special weekends. I think it’s too short. I like to race. I like to have issues with the tyres, with the fuel, to have a lot going on throughout the race. I like to sweat and to suffer.

“Now it felt like you never got into a rhythm. You had 10 laps, then we stopped, then 10 laps, we would stop. It was still a short race.

“I would be happy with one or two, but I wouldn’t like this to take over five to 10 races.”

Official Formula 1 Playseats launched

Formula 1 has agreed a licensing deal with Playseat which will offer a line of officially branded race simulator seats. Their first offering, the Playseat Formula Intelligence F1 Edition, will set you back €2,499 (£2,143).

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Comment of the day

Was Russell calling for a red flag out of concern for his safety, because he knew one would allow him to keep his points – or both?

I’m not against drivers asking for red flag with such an incident, but I do think Russell particularly is very aware of the rules and what they mean, and particularly at this moment in time, he knew what would happen if a red flag was the case; the cars would be classified in the positions they were in on the lap it happened, so he wouldn’t have lost out.

To be realistic, a red flag would mean that all drivers that were not passing the pit entry would have to all go past anyway, just like they did during the double yellows and safety car and it will have made very little difference safety wise given how quickly the drivers caught up to it all. And I’m really fussy about safety. I think that the decision they made was suitable, and Russell’s radio was more smart tactics than panic, although certainly a bit of the latter.

To be honest, I heard much more genuine fear in Stroll’s voice when he said this after his puncture in Baku 2021:

“Wow wow wow wow, wow. Wah Red Flag! Red Flag! Get me out of this place on the track! I got a puncture”

While I sense there was clearly a bit of fear in Russell’s voice, I think it was far more related to him being switched on and knowing that if him begging for red flags was successful, he wouldn’t lose out at all. He likely also knew that the safety car would result in more or less the same number of cars having to pass him on track as the red flag too.
Ben Rowe (@TheGiantHogweed)

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On this day in motorsport

Start, Interlagos, 1994 Brazilian Grand Prix
Michael Schumacher won the 1994 season opener while team mate Jos Verstappen was involved in a huge crash

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39 comments on “Verstappen’s engineer won’t look elsewhere after working with ‘one of the greatest’”

  1. Pleased to see there’s a Ratzenberger documentary coming. Understandably, because of who Senna was, but tragically nonetheless, the other horrifying untimely death at that cursed weekend tends to be overlooked. Roland also deserves to be remembered and have his story told.

  2. “Playseat Formula Intelligence F1 Edition, will set you back €2,499 (£2,143).”
    That saying about a fool and their money easily parted springs to mind…

    1. I was about to say “have you looked at the specs?” but having looked at the specs, I was expecting a moving seat with all sorts of pistons and wires and gadgets. But no, it’s just a frame that can be adjusted to match various different formulas of racing. I agree, vastly overpriced.

      1. Well, it does have a Red Bull logo on it.

      2. First thought I had when I looked at it was ” There must be all of £100 worth of materials there, if that ”
        For that money I would want it made out of Unicorn bones…

    2. If they have that much cash to throw around, surely they could just sit on their wallet.

    3. It sounds like a very corporate price, something for an F1 fan experience. That said, I’m sure some individuals will want to pick this up. People regularly spend similar amounts on other hobbies, from photography to travel to sports; if it’s something they intend to use a lot for a few years, there are certainly worse ways to spend the money.

      But like rprp said, the claim that the seat ‘replicates the authentic sensations’ suggests there’s some movement – or at the very least some rumbling – involved, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It looks to be just a simple metal frame. I’ve seen folks DIY more impressive rigs. This kind of thing isn’t for me, but seeing some of the elaborate things people have build to play racing games is pretty cool. This seems a bit lackluster for the price.

  3. COTD couldn’t be more right. Mercedes questionably gaining relatively over closest rivals & the same amount of drivers passing the stricken car anyway, not to mention VSC & or SC conditions are generally enough for final lap.

    1. COTD couldn’t be more right

      Couldn’t be more wrong. Calling full course yellow – no overtaking, or red flag – proceed to pits at minimum speed and be prepared to stop on course.

      Jere, have you actually seen the in car video of Russell? That looks scared/worried to me.
      It isn’t that long since Correa suffered massive leg injuries and Hubert died in a T-bone impact, and Russell was set up on track perfectly for exactly that.

      1. Davethechicken
        27th March 2024, 10:28

        +1 spot on stevep

        1. +1 here also

          1. +1 here too. No worse place than being stationary in the middle of the track in a corner.

      2. Double yellow is also prepared to stop. Perhaps Russell (as GPDA Director) could say something to his fellow drivers about that. As it was the last lap, red flag, SC or VSC wouldn’t matter.

      3. SteveP Yes, I have, but the point is that even if red-flagging happened immediately, all the same drivers would’ve still approached & passed him, but ultimately zero risk of getting T-boned because everyone had been warned anyway.

        1. notagrumpyfan
          27th March 2024, 18:40

          Red flag would have required the cars to come into the pit, now many cars even passed him twice.

          1. Yes, because they had the cooldown lap to do during which everyone always drives slowly anyway, so even less risk than during a racing lap under SC or VSC neutralization.
            Perhaps some or most drivers would’ve only passed him once, but still the same amount of drivers anyway, so not much difference.

      4. I think being too naive to driver’s tactics is bad, and you can’t say there can’t possibly be an element of traing to salvage points by russell.

      5. trying*

    2. I am not so sure here. We all know recent fatalities came out of situations where a car was stuck and struck mid track in a relatively blind corner/part of the circuit. I would say one of the most dangerous positions you can be in on a race track. Immediate red flag circumstances. FIA got lucky in this case, but they were off in their call.

    3. COTD couldn’t be more wrong. It appears the editor might make a change to Controversy Of The Day.

      1. It’s a fair question to wonder why Russell was calling for a red flag, rather than a yellow one – or a safety car?

        I don’t think he has any scheme in his mind, after such a hard impact and scary situation, I doubt even a GP driver’s first thought is of how the race can be set back a lap. I’d be impressive if he did think of that, but from the radio I’d bet on him just being freaked out by the dangerous positioning.

        So why the red flag? I’m guessing it’s because Russell knows that the drivers will always try to maximize the speed they carry through the yellow flag zones, and that the regulatory requirement that they should be ‘prepared to stop’ because the track is wholy or partly blocked has been completely unenforced by the FIA for decades.

        Bringing back proper observance of yellow flag rules is a fantastic idea for many reasons. In case of an incident racing can continue on other parts of the track, a full on safety car is unnecessary so honestly gained gaps are preserved, and red flags can be reduced to a ‘once every few seasons’ rarity.

        1. MichaelN Although SC & VSC are different from a yellow zone that only affects a single mini-sector at a time rather than entire circuit, so drivers definitely driver at slower pace during VSC than yellow, single or double, thus the case of maximizing speed is invalid in this case.

  4. The single biggest risk in single-seater racing in the modern era is getting hit while you’re stationary. GR was sat after a corner that’s nearly flat with a blind exit. This would mean any driver coming through at speed would not really have time to react. I think the fact he had just hit the wall and was sat in the circuit, with all the associated chemicals flowing through his system, suggests his survival instinct probably trumped his competitive one.

    A red flag tells all drivers a serious accident has probably happened and prepare to stop. No other caution system forces drivers to crawl to a stop if needs be. If you’ve ever raced it’s the flag that makes you think “uh oh”. So it’s perfectly reasonable for GR to call for a red considering the position he was in. I’d have done the same.

    1. I also very much doubt that the cars are designed to withstand a big hit from the underside, so with the way the car ended up, I was way more worried than if the car had crashed in a more normal way.

    2. I cannot remember his name right now but there was the Italian driver ex F1 went to indy who was hit from the side and lost both legs. Those cars have great survival cells around the driver, and it is amazing the way they can hit walls and emerge unscathed, but when another car with a pointy nose hits them at a hundred mph from the side, the car doesn’t offer much protection any more. I agree with your assessment. In fact, I think it was amazing that Russell was composed enough to be able to work out where he’d landed and hit the radio button and get the message out.

      1. That would be Alessandro Zanardi, who had said tragic accident at the Lausitzring in Klettwitz, Germany in 2001.

        1. Zanardi, yes, of course. My brain cells are on a go-slow today.

  5. I’m curious what this “ingenuity” was considering there seems to be more rightful criticism of the Thermal Club exhibition race then praise. Certainly I thought it was ultimately a waste of time, the heats and ‘split’ final format being ridiculous and, much like Sprint races (much as I could say the sprint format is better then the thermal club format I’d have to stress that isn’t a compliment), taking away the environment these cars thrive in.

  6. CD (@clipperdael)
    27th March 2024, 10:42

    With Nascar starting to embrace street circuits more and more whilst dragging their feet on the whole Fontana replacement thing it’s not really all that surprising news, is it? Actually it makes a whole lot of sense for them to make a bid for LB.

    But holy hell, can they please get their own tracks. First it’s TMS in spring, now this. It’d be a crying shame if IndyCar lost this venue to Nascar’s coffers.

  7. Russell was struggling to get out of a car that was on its side, on a pretty much blind bend, with other cars arriving at over 100mph ….
    and you think that in those few short seconds he was calculating how many points he could score?

    Let’s change CotD to mean Conspiracy of the Day … or Comment of the Deluded.

    1. Brilliant!

  8. Re: Lambiase, of course he wouldn’t, from a career perspective he is looking at the next role up. It doesn’t hurt to have “-time WDC Race Engineer” on your CV so he’ll keep trying to increase that X for now.

    1. Should say “X-time WDC Race Engineer”

  9. I cant remember the exact saying or who said it but the point of it was ” Tragedies are normally not caused by one thing going wrong, it is a combination of lots of smalls things going wrong combined “. Just look at yesterdays bridge accident.
    When Russell was sat in the middle of the track race control would of looked at the GPS of the cars on track positions and deduced with very little time that Stroll was far enough away to slow to VSC speed, what if the GPS wasn’t quite updating correctly.
    VSC is called, what if Stroll’s VSC notification display wasn’t updating correctly or full speed.
    The engineer gets on to Stroll and in an almost panicked way and is telling Stroll repeatedly about Russell in the road, what if there was an intermittent problem with the radio and the message doesn’t get through, they pull a VSC for very minor things these days, debris on track, wallaby or lizard at turn 4, Stroll then goes around at 60 to 80kph thinking ” Cant be that bad, they would of called a Red flag” while playing with the dials on he’s wheel and watching he’s Delta.
    What if there was a delay problem with the yellow/VSC display at the run in to turn 6.
    I know there are a lot of what ifs in there and a lot of ” you cant be serious ” but you get the point, it only takes a few what ifs to combine and you get a tragedy. And don’t forget get were talking about all this happening in the space of, what, 30 seconds.
    Something like this will happen again, is F1 really going to play loose with the Laws of Probability, because to quote Richard Feynman’s closing remark in the Space Shuttle Challenger accident report ” Reality must take precedent over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled “

    1. The marshal posts observe their own section of the tracks and are, generally, encouraged to respond swiftly to incidents without prior instruction (it’s part of the post chief’s job to be in contact with race control to inform them of any incidents, as well as to relay instructions from race control; it works both ways). There’s always a bit of back and forth on this, and F1 in particular likes to orchestrate its blue flags centrally and prefers using the light system over flags. So it’s hard to say it’s always this or that way.

      But, tellingly, the FIA was very protective of the marshals when Horner (again with this guy) moaned about a supposed “rogue” marshal correctly giving a yellow flag for an incident involving Gasly in Qatar 2021 that ended up harming Verstappen’s qualifying attempt. The FIA swiftly rebuked Horner and gave him a formal warning for his antics.

      1. The Qatar incident does highlight another example what ifs. Yellow flag, green flag, yellow flag etc, total confusion, or to be more on point, Chaos.
        Throw in another what if or two and you’ve rolled the dice and its all probabilities, now and then you get snake eyes and everybody losses.

    2. @plosslf1 Add to that, Verstappen huge debris standing on the penultimate turn of the racetrack for the entire race.

      Where is the safety ?

  10. That 1994 brazil win for schumacher was, if I recall, the only race where he lapped all his opponents!

    Obviously senna was up there with him and it wouldn’t have happened if not for senna’s mistake, hill despite driving the same car as senna was a lap behind, and then there was also, probably the race after, at aida, a case where schumacher lapped everyone but 2nd, who was just in front of him, could have but he wasn’t going for those achievements, I guess.

  11. Yep, one of the greatest also imo. Max and GP are a golden duo.

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