Verstappen demands Red Bull reliability in title fight with Perez
By Ian Parkes
Monday 20th March, 2023 - 10:07pm
An unhappy Max Verstappen has called on Red Bull to improve its reliability given this year’s F1 title fight is heading for an intra-team battle with Sergio Perez.
Verstappen delivered a recovery drive from 15th on the grid to finish second in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix behind race-winning team-mate Perez after his RB19 sustained a driveshaft failure during the second session of qualifying.
Late in the race, the two-time reigning F1 champion complained of vibrations on the driveshaft, sparking concerns of another failure and enforced retirement.
Fortunately for the Dutchman, his car held on to the finish, with Verstappen even able to claim the fastest lap on the final lap, giving him a one-point advantage over Perez in the drivers’ standings.
With Red Bull the class act of this year’s field, it already feels as if the fight for the title is between Verstappen and Perez.
That has led to Verstappen making a plea to his team.
Asked how much longer he felt the team could maintain its pace advantage over its rivals, Verstappen replied: “I hope for a long time.
“But it’s not only about the pace of the car, we need to make sure we are reliable without any issues.
“My first weekend (in Bahrain) was not very clean because of the big balance shift from testing to the race weekend, and with some other things going on in the background.
“Again, after three positive practice sessions, I have an issue in qualifying.
“Of course, I recovered to second, which is good, and in general, the whole feeling in the team, everyone is happy but personally, I’m not happy.
“I’m not here to be second, especially when you are working very hard back at the factory to make sure you arrive here in a good state, and basically making sure everything is spot on.
“But then you have to do a recovery race, which I don’t mind doing, but when you’re fighting for a championship, and especially when it looks like it’s just between two cars, we have to make sure the two cars are reliable.”
Verstappen is convinced there was an issue with the rear driveshaft, even though he said “the team couldn’t see anything”.
After closing to within five seconds of Perez, it meant any hope of catching and passing him disappeared, forcing hm to settle for the runner-up spot.
“I’m fairly sure there was something odd going on with the balance since the vibration started to kick in,” said Verstappen.
“In qualifying, it just went. It snapped. Luckily, it didn’t do that (in the race) but it started to have a similar effect on the feeling of driving and what you could hear.
“At one point, I did the calculations, and I wouldn’t have been able to close that gap to the end with only 10 laps left.
“So it’s more important to just settle for second, not having an issue with the car.”
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