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Column Jos Verstappen: 'A challenged Max is an even better Max'

Published on 13 June 2022 by de redactie

A win is always beautiful, but it’s good to see the kind of run Max and Red Bull are stringing together. After the two retirements at the start of the season, everyone thought it could be lost. Now you see Ferrari is currently having problems, but things can change in an instant and it remains a very technical sport. Then you notice that Red Bull often has things in order, with their skilled people and experience. But we shouldn’t cheer too soon, it’s still a very long season.

I thought Max was very strong in Baku and let’s be honest: everything played out conveniently. I think Ferrari made a good call bringing in Leclerc during the virtual safety car. When Max came in later on, he was 13 seconds behind. There was another virtual safety car later on, Leclerc could have taken advantage of that again. That he had to retire with technical problems played out good for us. Max might have caught up with him but that would have required taking more risk and overtaking. It didn’t have to come to that.

You could see Max was very motivated. That had of course to do with the previous race in Monaco, but he doesn’t really let it get to him. I think that’s very beautiful, it only makes him better. A challenged Max is an even better Max.

The only thing that’s still lacking is qualifying. Saturday you could see the frustration during the post-session interview because it’s not going yet like he wants it to. If they can sort out the qualifying, things will be easier for him. On street circuits this is even more evident. There is less rubber and he has more difficulty to rotate the car quickly. The good news is that during a race, the Red Bull goes like a rocket. The balance of the car is good. During a longer run the tyres behave differently and the car becomes quicker with turning. Max can deal with that very well.

Max is great in driving consistent lap times. He can drive every lap 100% accurate: boom, boom, same time. It was nice to hear the interaction over the onboard radio between Max and his engineer Gianpiero. Max pointed out that he shouldn’t go too slow because the tyres would cool down too much. You have to stay near the limit, also for your concentration. The vibe between GP and Max is very good. They know each other through and through.

I drove the Rally of Wervik on Saturday. Until the fifth stage, it went very well. We were competing for the victory. Unfortunately, in the fifth stage things went wrong. You must cut corners a lot during such a rally. That means that in most corners you end up in the grass with two wheels and then come back on the asphalt. The grooves in the grass get deeper and deeper. This was the second time we raced there and there were 140 participants. I had already passed the corner, got on the gas, but once I got on the asphalt the car kind of lifted. I then over-steered and drove into a ditch. There, we hit a piece of sawn-off tree trunk at 130 kilometers per hour. That was quite an impact. It will take a few weeks to repair the car.

Of course, I was very disappointed. But again, this is the typical rally-experience and knowledge of the circuit. For me it was the first time I drove there. A positive take away was that the new notes-system that we used worked very well. And it clicks very well with my navigator Harm van Koppen. Because of the crash I did have time to watch Formula 1 on Saturday afternoon, so that was a positive!