Max Verstappen has been adapting to profound changes in his support network this season, having a new performance engineer, Richard Cooke. Cooke, a former student who joined the Red Bull team in 2017, was moved temporarily from the simulator group to work directly with Verstappen.
Cooke’s role involves supporting Verstappen’s race engineer, Gianpiero Lambiase. The three of them comprise a tight-knit team. Cooke’s primary tasks include fine-tuning car systems like the differential settings and brake balance, tailored to Verstappen’s driving style, while Lambiase takes a broader view of the race strategy.
The Dutch driver confessed that it initially took time to adjust to having a new face in his direct race support team. “This year I’ve been working because of circumstances with a new performance engineer from basically the start until now,” Verstappen shared candidly.
The transition period was not without its challenges, Verstappen admitted, “But it’s like anything, when you have someone new in your team, to really get this good understanding of what we need from each other, also took a little bit of time.”
However, Verstappen had nothing but praise for the young engineer’s performance. “I’m really proud of the job that he has done to jump in and take the job on, and what we have achieved. It’s incredible and really enjoyable to work with him.”
According to Verstappen, working with a new engineer has not only enriched the experience but also contributed significantly to the overall aim of improving the race package. This, he insists, is an ongoing process with the aim of finer detailing, including preparing for the next car in the subsequent year or year after.
The Dutchman also touched upon improvements made on the RB19 for tracks like Singapore with rough roads, “For sure we try to improve everything we can, but some things of course, they might only be fixed for next year.” Verstappen candidly admitted, “Singapore probably is a little bit more difficult than Spa, Zandvoort, or any of these kinds of tracks.” However, his team is committed to continuous improvement for any challenge that comes their way.