Verstappen: I felt like the car was falling apart

By Sports Desk July 03, 2022

Max Verstappen says his Red Bull felt like it was "falling apart" in a frustrating day for the Formula One championship leader at Silverstone.

Verstappen took the lead from pole sitter Carlos Sainz after the Ferrari driver made an unforced error and went wide, but his advantage lasted just a few laps after then suffering structural damage.

The defending champion ran over a piece of debris and believed he had suffered a puncture, but a pit stop did not solve the problem and it was later revealed he had sustained significant structural damage to the floor of his Red Bull.

That left Verstappen unable to fight his way up the order and instead had to see off pressure from Haas driver Mick Schumacher, who secured a first points finish in F1, and the Dutch ace says the incident "destroyed" the side of his car.

"I'd just gone into the lead because of Carlos' 'moment' and then a few corners later, there was a piece of debris on the racing line," he told Sky Sports.

 

"As soon as I arrived there [on the line], I could not drastically turn left or right, so I tried to hit it head on. Normally, it would just get pushed away, but this time it went in my floor and destroyed the whole left-hand side of my floor.

"Within two corners, I felt like the car was falling apart. I thought initially I had a puncture, which was not the case, but even after that the car was a handful to drive."

The issues saw Verstappen's lead over team-mate Sergio Perez in the championship drop to 34 points, with the Mexican driver coming second, but Verstappen believes the result was still a positive one after the issues he sustained.

"I think overall to finish seventh with that car, it was still a good result. It's better than zero points that's for sure," he added.

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    Red Bull have started the 2023 season with back-to-back one-twos, with Max Verstappen triumphing at the Bahrain Grand Prix and Sergio Perez winning in Saudi Arabia last time out.

    Mercedes, meanwhile, sit third in the constructors' championship having started a second consecutive year off the pace, with Hamilton posting successive fifth-place finishes.

    Speaking ahead of this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, Hamilton was pessimistic about his team's chances of matching Red Bull in the short term.

    "It is going to take us the rest of the year to potentially close that gap," the seven-time world champion said.

    "If you look at the Red Bull, it is just going to continue to evolve most likely. Some cars do plateau in terms of performance. At some point it can't just keep going. But maybe it can.

    "They have a great team around them and I am sure they will continue to add downforce.

    "We just have to make sure when we do make the change, hopefully the drop isn't too far, and it is going to take us the rest of the year, for sure, to potentially close that gap."

    Hamilton has been outspoken in his criticism of Mercedes' troubled W14 car, which the team plan to make major alterations to just two races into the season.

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    After competing in Melbourne, there will be a break before F1 resumes in Azerbaijan across the April 28-30 weekend, a gap that was created by the cancellation of a planned race in China.

    Three clear weeks without competition should allow Verstappen to get back on an even keel, although he signalled the worst of the illness has already passed.

    "I was not looking forward to the break, but then I got really ill and have just been struggling a bit since that time, especially last race out," Verstappen said.

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    Reflecting on his tough experience prior to racing in Jeddah two weeks ago, Verstappen said: "At home I was really ill, I could barely just walk around. It felt like I was just missing a lung, and I got to the weekend really believing that it was gone.

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    Verstappen has yet to have a win at the Australian Grand Prix, with third place in 2019 being his best finish to date.

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    Keen to avoid any animosity, Hamilton sought to clarify what he had meant in Jeddah.

    He said: "I want to reiterate how great a job George did.

    "I think the thing I was commenting on is that there's one specific thing that you can change in the suspension that you have to do over Friday night, and when you make that change, once you start P3, you can't change it for the rest of the weekend, so when you make that change, you're basically rolling the dice. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

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