Verstappen’s most embarrassing moment in F1

Max Verstappen has billed his 2016 United States GP pit stop blunder as his most embarrassing moment as a Formula 1 driver.

The Dutchman, promoted to Red Bull’s senior team earlier in the year, was running a strong fourth at the Circuit of the Americas having passed Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Verstappen suddenly pulled into the pits but his mechanics weren’t ready for the driver.

They quickly jumped into action but the slow stop meant Verstappen lost positions.

Turns out he had no one but himself to blame as he made an assumption that, as they often do, proved to be wrong.

“In 2016, in Austin,” he told GPToday.net when asked what was his most embarrassing F1 moment. “I was driving, I was like P5 maybe. It was going quite well, I was closing on the guys in third and fourth.

“My engineer, he would say ‘push now, push now’. Back then, that normally meant that lap you were pitting, but I knew that I had to speed up.

“So he said that, I was doing my lap in Austin and [at] the second to last corner, I went in all good and then I drove to the pit entry and into the corner – and I realised he never called me in.

“He didn’t tell me to pit, he never said it.

“I was like ‘Oh my god, what did I just do?’. I’m in the pit lane I’m like ‘Guys, I’m pitting, I’m pitting, I’m in the pits!’.

“Suddenly you see all the guys running out, they were taking random tyres.

“The pit stop was like eight or nine seconds, but still considering what I did, it was a very fast pit stop.

“After the pit stop I didn’t say anything because it doesn’t make sense to argue.”

The Dutchman retired a few laps later when gearbox gremlins forced him out of the grand prix.

Out of the car he had to face the wrath of Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko.

Ironically, though, fans still voted Verstappen their ‘Driver of the Day’ for his efforts that Sunday.

“So I continued,” he added, “but within three laps something died and my car retired.

“After the race, having the discussion, Helmut was pretty angry at me.

“But I was like ‘yeah, I f*cked up. I thought he called me in’.”

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Kvyat: I became a better driver in 2019

Daniil Kvyat’s own synopsis of his performance last season with Toro Rosso is honest and forthright, now the rapid Russian is looking ahead to future success as he continues to prove he is deserving of his second chance on Formula 1.

It seemed only yesterday that Max Verstappen won his inaugural Formula One Grand Prix in a chaotic 2016 Spanish race. Since then he has added seven more victories to his tally. But one man’s gain is always at the expense of another’s fortune, and that unlucky soul in Barcelona was Daniil Kvyat.

Promoted to Red Bull to fill the departing Sebastian Vettel in 2015, Kvyat struggled to match the pace of teammate Daniel Ricciardo and too often fell afoul of the stewards with a myriad of on-track incidents.

The costliest being his double blow into the rear of Vettel’s Ferrari at the 2016 Russian Grand Prix. Living up to his torpedo namesake, Kvyat was duly demoted from the senior team after the race before being completely dropped from F1 after the 2017 season.

But it would be Ricciardo’s shock switch to Renault for 2019 that opened the door for Kvyat’s return to the spotlight. Helmut Marko ultimately decided to offer the Russian a rare second chance to perform for Toro Rosso after concluding that the team had no junior drivers capable of success in F1.

Kvyat then joined a small community of drivers who were offered a second opportunity in F1 after being let go altogether for a period of time. Both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen also experienced the chance to deliver for a second time despite being dropped previously.

For Kvyat, his approach to 2019’s season was exceptional. The Russian would finish P13 in the drivers’ championship with 37 points and assisted Toro Rosso in finishing P6 in the constructors with a record tally of 85 points.

Kvyat also experienced having to deal with two teammates of two completely different calibres. Initially, Kvyat seemed to dominate Albon across all facets, and by the winter break was six places clear of his teammate.

Arguably frustrated at the decision to promote Albon over himself to the senior team, Kvyat continued to exemplify his ultimate potential in a car that was far from the best.

Pierre Gasly apparently succumbed to the pressure that exists in a top tier team that demands nothing short of success; pressure that is undoubtedly amplified when pitted against Max Verstappen. Thus, resulting in Gasly’s demotion to Toro Rosso before the Belgian Grand Prix.

But for Kvyat, the lack of stress that comes with being situated in a midfield team paid enormous dividends for himself and the team. He was able to orchestrate drives that genuinely reflected his potential.

Kvyat’s superb podium drive in the wet German Grand Prix that eliminated the vast majority of the field would be only the second in the history of Toro Rosso, and a testament to Kvyat’s exceptional aptitude.

For 2020 Toro Rosso will be rebranded as AlphaTauri in conjunction with Red Bull’s fashion line. But for Kvyat the goal remains the same: to develop his driving talent whilst delivering the performances expected on a regular basis.

A similar clearheaded approach to the fresh F1 season that was suggested last year is key to unlocking Kvyat’s true potential.

Team principal of AlphaTauri Franz Tost believes his team must target a top-five finish in the constructors’ championship for the upcoming season.

Tost said recently, “I hope that we will do a step forward and then the target becomes quite clear. We have to improve our performance and we have to finish in the top five in the constructors’ championship.”

AlphaTauri will have the additional advantage of once again having Honda provide their power units for 2020. The Japanese manufacturer have rapidly evolved with Red Bull over the last few seasons and late indications last year suggested that their PU already on par with their more established rivals.

Meanwhile, Kvyat has his eyes firmly set on family. During the weekend of his phenomenal German Grand Prix, his partner Kelly Piquet (daughter of three-time world champion Nelson Piquet) gave birth to the couple’s first child; and the off-season provides the perfect opportunity to develop a family relationship

AlphaTauri are set to unveil their 2020 car on February 14th, one week ahead of the year’s first pre-season test in Barcelona.


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Marko: Gasly’s Red Bull approach a ‘complete failure’

Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko says Pierre Gasly’s approach at Red Bull was a “complete failure”, but his recovery was amazing.

The Frenchman was promoted to the Austrian outfit’s line-up for the 2019 campaign after Daniel Ricciardo left to join Renault, but it’s safe to say that decision didn’t pay off.

After a series of underwhelming displays Gasly was sent back to Toro Rosso over the summer break, but it was from this point that he returned to form, even scoring a career-best P2 finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

And Marko feels that things didn’t work out for Gasly at Red Bull because his approach was a “complete failure”, that approach being simply to beat team-mate Max Verstappen.

“It seems to me that Pierre should take some of the blame,” Grandprix247.com quote Marko as having told the Russian version of Motorsport.com.

“He came to Red Bull and saw only one goal in front of him – Verstappen, no one else.

“If he had accepted from the very beginning that Max is still faster, and tried to gradually get close to him – but he tried to change his style, tried to reduce the gap in other ways, change something, try to attack harder. And this led to complete failure.

“However, his return (to Toro Rosso) was amazing.

“At such moments, you understand how important psychology is.

“If I would have said that I expected such a return from him (Gasly), I would be lying. But unlike Kvyat, who was completely broken, Gasly blossomed. Which was fortunate for himself and for us too.

“Pierre returned to Toro Rosso and instantly became the same Gasly that we invited (to Red Bull).

“I think he learned a lesson and made the right conclusions from those six months at Red Bull. I think he can achieve a lot in the future.”

Marko rejected the idea though that sending Gasly back to Toro Rosso, now AlphaTauri, was a “downgrade”.

“We are talking about Formula 1,” he said. “Do you know how many thousands of drivers dream of getting a place here?

“He still makes a lot of money, and is still in the best championship in the world. I would say this is a chance, a new opportunity, but not a downgrade.”

Gasly’s team-mate Kvyat has described himself as a “living example” to the Frenchman that it’s possible to recover at Red Bull.

Marko confirmed that Kvyat is still indeed in the Red Bull picture, but he must become a more consistent driver.

“Yes, I think so,” he said when asked if Kvyat could return to the Red Bull team.

“He still needs to add consistency, but he had a very strong last race in Abu Dhabi.

“The podium in Hockenheim was also great, but if we talk about laptimes and how he worked with the tyres, then Abu Dhabi was his best race of the season.”

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Marko: ‘No more excuses’ from Red Bull in 2020

Red Bull’s motorsport advisor, Dr Helmut Marko, says there can be “no more excuses” from the team heading into the 2020 campaign.

Red Bull, bolstered by Max Verstappen signing a new three-year contract extension in early January, are once again hoping to throw themselves into the title mix alongside Mercedes and Ferrari.

The Milton Keynes-based team recorded three race wins with Japanese engine manufacturer Honda in the first year of their partnership together, but Marko feels everything is in place now to raise the expectations and demand more.

“We want to fight for the World Championship and we know that we have to be competitive with the chassis right from the start, so from the very first race,” Marko told Motorsport-Total.com.

“Honda has made gains for next year and, after everything that has been achieved so far, we assume that this [fighting from the start of the season] will happen.

“That means we have no excuses.”

Marko set Red Bull a target of five race wins ahead of the 2019 season, but fell short of that target despite Verstappen’s best efforts.

In 2020, Marko is upping the ante.

“There must be more than five,” Marko stated.

Marko’s raised demands comes after Honda revealed that their next challenge was to give Red Bull an engine that make them a threat for race wins on all Formula 1 circuits, rather than just a select few, which has often been in the case in recent years.

“In 2019 it was, we don’t say ‘unstable’, but we had a preference in the circuit,” Honda’s F1 managing director Masashi Yamamoto told Autosport.

“We shouldn’t have that kind of thing.

“So we can tell to Max ‘we are here’, good everywhere, in every race. We have to provide that kind of engine, doing good development.”

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Max lifts lid on dynamic with his race engineer

Max Verstappen has revealed that he has a “very honest” partnership with his race engineer, who will say to each other if and when they are doing a “bad job”.

Verstappen and Gianpiero Lambiase have worked together ever since the Dutchman’s first year with the Red Bull senior team and are poised to continue the relationship with Verstappen signing a new three-year contract extension in January.

Verstappen values the fact that Lambiase does not talk for the sake of it and that clear communication helps him to stay focused and try to perform to his best ability.

“I think we are both very straightforward. We’re very honest,” Verstappen said via Motorsport.com.

“And we can say to each other when we do a bad job. I like that.

“And he’s also a guy who doesn’t talk too much. I don’t like someone who’s talking just to talk, giving me more messages – because for me, that is just not working. And he’s exactly the same, so he likes that as well.

“So short, quick communication is for me the best and, over the years, you get to know each other as well. You spend a lot of time with each other. Sometimes I think he can just guess already what I was going to say.”

Verstappen also mentioned the whole Red Bull team shares one common bond and that is their determination to win.

“It’s just very nice to be in the team, it is really enjoyable, a lot of fun, which I think is also important in the team,” he added.

“Everybody gets along very well with each other. And we all want to win, we have the winners’ mentality.

“Everybody at the track and back at the factory, they are also motivated to show everyone that we can get back to those winning days of Red Bull dominating. We just want to try and recreate that.”

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Horner: Only ‘rabbit out of a hat’ can stop classic 2020

Red Bull principal Christian Horner believes only someone “pulling a rabbit out of a hat” can stop his team, Mercedes and Ferrari from delivering a classic 2020 season.

Stable regulations and driver line-ups between 2019 and 2020 offer hope that the convergence of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull that we saw at the top of F1 in 2019 can continue into the new season.

If it does then we could be in for a classic in 2020 – Red Bull have already eased fears of their traditional slow start to a campaign by saying they are ahead of schedule with their new challenger, and boss Horner thinks that only a team “pulling a rabbit out of a hat” can cost us that three-way battle.

“We’ve got continuity across all aspects of next year with drivers, with regulations, with engine supply, engine regulation,” Horner is quoted by Motorsport.com.

“So unless somebody pulls a rabbit out of a hat, then I think we’re set for a really exciting year next year between, Mercedes, Ferrari, ourselves.

“And it could be a real classic season.”

Horner was quizzed though on Red Bull’s habit of starting a season poorly, but he explained why he doesn’t see it happening this time around.

“The front wing regulation change, and the tyre change over the winter seemed to affect us perhaps more than our opponents,” he explained.

“And of course also, at that time we were still catching up from the power perspective.

“But I think from Austria onwards, we really got on top of that and the second half of the year for us has been very competitive.

“I mean, if I look back to 2017, we had a fantastic car at the start of the year, we should have been on the front row in Melbourne, we won the second race in China.

“We had a very, very competitive car, the beginning of ‘17. And again, that was with stability of regulations, and I think we have that again from 2019 into ‘20.

“You can’t gauge what others are doing. But hopefully, theoretically, the Melbourne [‘20] car will be an upgrade of the Abu Dhabi [‘19] car.”

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Red Bull Technology behind Toro Rosso’s 2019 success?

AlphaTauri principal Franz Tost has suggested that the team’s relationship with Red Bull Technology was the key factor behind their 2019 achievements.

In their final season as Toro Rosso the team picked up 85 points as they secured P6 in the Constructors’ Championship, while Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly each recorded a podium finish.

But in 2019 Toro Rosso grew closer to their sister team Red Bull then ever before with both using Honda power, while the duo also shared more components thanks to Red Bull Technology.

And Tost made it clear that these closer ties were a key factor behind his team’s strong 2019.

“There is absolutely no doubt that the performance we have shown was a result to a very high percentage coming from the synergies with Red Bull Technology,” Tost told Motorsport.com.

“Because you must not forget that Red Bull Technology has most of the experienced engineers on their side, and for me this is maybe the best technical office or at least on a very high level with the three top teams.

“And we can only profit out of this synergy, and therefore we do it.

“We will get the complete rear end from them once more [in 2020]. Even if it’s one year old, because we are running the rear end and front suspension which Red Bull Racing raced last year.

“But nevertheless, this is a higher advantage for us than if we do it ourselves, because we have neither the financial resources nor the engineers. We can then concentrate in other areas where we can improve the performance.”

The midfield pack was a very competitive environment to say the least in 2019, so Tost hopes AlphaTauri can make further gains this year.

“We are all not slowing down,” he said.

“I hope that we will speed up more than the others! It depends how competitive the new car will be, and how much progress also Honda will come up with. But generally speaking we should have quite a good package because the car now is on a certain level.

“We have two experienced drivers, and Honda will work very hard during the winter months to improve the performance.

“It will become very difficult because you have to find the balance of the development of the car for 2020, but you also must not forget to be concentrated on the research and development for the 2021 car.

“And this depends also on the financial resources which you have. And of course, the three top teams have a big advantage. We know this, but nevertheless, we will push very hard to hopefully come up in 2020 with a good car, and also in 2021.”

For the first time AlphaTauri have an experienced driver line-up on their hands for 2020 in the form of Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat.

And while this is of course a huge benefit to the team, Tost also thinks it offers Red Bull the flexibility they want.

“From the experience side we have the best driver line-up ever,” he explained.

“It always depends on the situation. It could be that in 2021 we’ll have a young driver in the team. Currently it’s not necessary.

“I think currently, we’re in a better position to keep these drivers because if something happens at Red Bull Racing, they can take an experienced driver from us. And this is quite a position where you can start to work from. It’s exactly what Red Bull wants to achieve, it is to be flexible.”

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Marko: Sainz is fast, but he's no Verstappen!

Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko has no regrets about not retaining Carlos Sainz in the energy drink’s bull pen, insisting the Spaniard is fast but “not a Verstappen”.

Sainz was a pure product of Red Bull’s Junior Team who rose through the junior ranks to graduate to Formula 1 in 2015 with Toro Rosso.

In his third year with the Faenza-based squad, Sainz was loaned to Renault, undertaking a full season with the French squad in 2018 before Marko released him from his contract with Red Bull, a decision which led to his move to McLaren for 2019.

Given Sainz’s good results with the Woking-based outfit and the disappointing performance of Pierre Gasly which led to last year’s mid-season swap with Alex Albon, one could be led to believe that Red Bull now views dismissing the Spaniard as a mistake. But Marko harbors no regrets.

“Carlos was confronted with one Max Verstappen,” Marko explained, speaking in his home town of Graz to Motorsport.com.

“The choice [in 2016] then actually went between the two: who do we promote? And then you get to the heart of it.

“Carlos is fast – otherwise we would not have picked him up at all – but he is not a Verstappen.”

Marko’s choice of betting on Verstappen by swapping the Dutchman with Daniil Kvyat after just four races in 2016 was validated by Verstappen’s sensational debut triumph with Red Bull Racing in Spain.

For Sainz, his former teammate’s win was likely a tough moment to endure. But Marko believes Red Bull and Sainz made the most of their relationship.

“We helped Carlos in his career and didn’t have to let him go,” added Marko.

“But we made the transition to Renault and later McLaren possible.

“We have a good relationship, but at that particular moment we also had Verstappen in the team and there are differences between them.”

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Pretenders to the F1 throne are eyeing the 2020 crown

Formula 1’s future seems brighter than ever with the recent announcement that Max Verstappen will remain signed with Red Bull until 2023.

The news of Verstappen’s contract renewal comes no less than two weeks after Ferrari also revealed that their own superstar youngster Charles Leclerc has renewed his own contract deal until after 2024.

Both Verstappen and Leclerc dominated headlines across last year’s title campaign, the two young guns fearlessly demonstrated their pure speed and determination to supersede even at the expense of one another.

Reminisce back to Austria and Silverstone where both drivers, appropriately dubbed ‘future world champions’, put themselves ahead of their team to produce dazzling displays of racing, fuelled by will and grit and not necessarily team nor machinery.

It is a breed of racing unseen perhaps since the emergence of a young Fernando Alonso and his dual against the legendary Michael Schumacher.

The old guard, are now under siege by the rise of the next generation.

At Williams, 2018 F2 champion George Russell frequently abolished teammate Robert Kubica, a driver who by no means a mere ‘par’ at his peak.

At Ferrari, even Sebastian Vettel publicly acknowledged how serious of a threat Leclerc is too his own idiosyncratic ambitions. Before last year’s season opener in Melbourne Sebastian labelled his new teammate as a “full rival, expecting he will put a lot of pressure on me this season. He is very talented.”

The German predicted it right as Leclerc beat him in the championship standings.

Both Verstappen and Leclerc have the additional advantage to being young by also finding themselves racing in top tier teams. While Ferrari can never be fully written off, Honda have risen significantly to the challenge of developing a reliable, yet effective, power unit package for Red Bull and Toro Rosso.

Towards the later stages of 2019 many were even citing Honda to be on par with both their Mercedes and Ferrari rivals. The signing of Max to post 2023 is a sure signal that the Japanese auto-giant is on board too.

Next year, F1 is undergoing substantial regulations revamp of aerodynamic regulations ahead, with the implementation of a cost cap, along with numerous bodywork tweaks designed to narrow the deficit between the top teams and the backmarkers.

The predicted result for fans is obviously closer racing, while for drivers it means that the balance between machinery and talent becomes fairer. F1 rule-makers aim to make it so no longer will one driver run away with a title purely because they have the best car.

Rather, individual talent and determination to win will have a far more significant impact they claim. Thus, uprise the young guns. Fearless in their pursuit of glory as they proved on several occasions last year, it is clear experience matters little when it comes to wheel-to-wheel combat.

Lando Norris’ move around the outside of Pierre Gasly in Bahrain last year is testament to that. It is only a year prior at the same venue when Bottas failed to pass Vettel on the final lap with a dive at turn one, demonstrative perhaps of a lack of courage and audacity of youth.

By the time both Max’s and Charles’ latest contract deals near expiration, Lewis and Sebastian will be on the verge of 40, while the experienced Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas will both be in their late 30s.

Last season the next-generation made their presence felt in F1, this year the pretenders to the throne are seriously eyeing the crown and, with the right package, it would be foolish to bet against either of them claiming it.

To quote Martin Brundle, this new wave has “golden era” written all over it.


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Red Bull-Honda junior drivers on the move

Two drivers hoping to be next off the Red Bull-Honda production line have secured seats ahead of the 2020 season.

19-year-old Juri Vips, who became part of the Red Bull set-up in 2018, is following in the footsteps of Pierre Gasly and ex-Red Bull youth product Dan Ticktum in joining the Super Formula championship based in Japan.

The Estonian, following a 2019 season where he finished P4 in the Formula 3 Championship and P2 in the Macau Grand Prix, will be driving for Team Mugen again having made his debut for them in the 2019 Super Formula season finale at Suzuka.

Red Bull’s engine suppliers, Honda, also confirmed that 19-year-old Yuki Tsunoda will be making the step up to Formula 2 this year with Carlin Racing.

Tsunoda won the Japanese Formula 4 Championship in 2018 and also competed in the Formula 3 Championship in 2019 for Jenzer Motorsport, where he finished P9 in the standings.

Tsunoda impressed after testing with Carlin last season and is viewed as Honda’s brightest racing prospect given he is much younger than Honda’s more established drivers such as Nobuharu Matsushita, a 26-year-old who has still yet to earn enough points on his superlicense to be eligible for Formula 1.

The last Honda-backed Japanese driver to feature on the Formula 1 grid was Takuma Sato in 2008.

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