The spotlight was once again on Max Verstappen in the wake of his victorious performance in last Sunday’s race. This followed a recognized disagreement between Verstappen and his race engineer during qualifying at Spa, raising further eyebrows this time around with their on-air exchanges.
As Verstappen secured his second place behind race front-runner and Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase advised him to “Use your head”. Verstappen responded: “Are we both [the two drivers] doing it or what?”. When Lambiase replied, “You just follow my instruction”, Verstappen didn’t mask his irritation, asking, “I want to know if both cars do it”. His engineer concluded the back-and-forth firmly requesting, “Max, please just follow my instruction, thank you”.
In the wake of Verstappen‘s second and final pit stop, his race engineer cautioned him for potentially depleting his last set by pushing for the fastest lap, an accolade Verstappen temporarily held before being pipped by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton on the final lap.
When quizzed about the on-air exchanges post-race, Verstappen surmised that his message had been “probably, 50-50”. He humorously informed Sky F1, “I’m just annoyed they don’t like to do an extra pitstop, so I just want to at least make them a little bit uncomfortable so maybe they might think I’m going to push it to do another stop”.
Expounding on this, Verstappen shared: “I know the team doesn’t like to do another stop, but I like to mention it, so they might get a bit nervous. And then I like the response that ‘Oh no, we’re not doing that today’. It’s fine. We know each other very well and we have a very good relationship”.
The Dutch driver highlighted the crucial role his race engineer and the team play in achieving successful performance. He said, “I find it always a really important part of your performance – not only your race engineer but also everyone very close around you [like] your performance engineer and these kind of things. Of course, over the years you build up much more of a relationship, you know each other better”.
Verstappen finally underscored the significance of continuity and stability, emphasizing that any abrupt changes in the engineering staff around him, especially his race engineer, would be “definitely not ideal at all”.