Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2022

Verstappen: Coming races may be ‘more difficult’ after Spa suited car ‘perfectly’

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In the round-up: World championship leader Max Verstappen downplays prospect of repeating his emphatic Belgian Grand Prix victory in the coming weeks

In brief

Next tracks “might be a little bit more difficult” – Verstappen

Verstappen expects a harder job to win in the next races on the Formula 1 schedule, despite his most recent success coming from 14th on the grid.

The Red Bull driver dominated qualifying and the race at last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, but Red Bull fitted a fourth internal combustion engine, turbocharger, MGU-H and MGU-K to his car during the event, exceeding the tally of three of each permitted for use in a season, and so he started 14th following the application of grid penalties.

That he already led by lap 12 at Spa-Francorchamps showed the level of dominance Red Bull were capable of. But Verstappen anticipates a greater challenge than he had in Belgium to win in the races ahead.

“I think our car is very efficient. This track [Spa] I think suits it perfectly, maybe,” he said. “So I know that some tracks which are coming up might be a little bit more difficult; then I expect again a good battle with Ferrari. It was just that this track seemed to be perfect for the car.”

McLaren fastest in straight line yet struggle in DRS – Norris

Lando Norris has posed another conundrum about McLaren’s pace in the Belgian GP, saying his car was one of the fastest in a straight line yet was being bettered by rivals at the highest speeds on straights.

“I think we were probably one of the quicker ones on the straights. Where we lose a lot is in DRS,” he explained.

“For some reason, in DRS we’re pretty shocking. Some cars are a lot better than others. In a pure straight line condition I think we were quicker than Red Bull.

“But then the Red Bull opens DRS and gains somehow like another 15kph and is in a complete different league to a lot of people. So there’s something where we’re maybe missing with DRS, maybe that makes our overtaking opportunities less than other people. But in a straight line, we were probably one of the quickest this weekend.”

Magnussen eager for Zandvoort return

Three drivers on this year’s F1 grid are yet to race on the updated version of Zandvoort and Haas’s Kevin Magnussen will be the least familiar with the track going into first practice on Friday.

Zhou Guanyu and Alex Albon last visited the circuit in the old FIA European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and 2015 respectively, while Magnussen has not raced on the circuit since coming third in the 2011 Masters of F3 event.

“It’s a great track,” he recalled. “It was a great track in F3. I know they’ve changed it a little bit, but I think they only made it better, at least looking from the outside last time out. Looking forward to it.”

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Comment of the day

Another race has gone by and another round of criticism for Ferrari’s race strategies. Team principal Mattia Binotto defended Ferrari’s approach post-race and it left some observers perplexed, including RaceFans readers.

I can understand Binotto wanting to put a brave face on things and keep morale up, alleviate some pressure on those making the calls.

But even if we give Ferrari the benefit of the doubt on a handful of decisions and say they did their best with the info they had at the time that still leaves plenty that were just either strange or plain wrong. I think it’s good to acknowledge the bad ones, they happen.

Teams that win world championships rarely get their strategies questioned (and certainly not at what seems almost every round). And when they do drop the ball – they tend to be the first to say ‘Yeah, we got that one wrong’.
bernasaurus

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Liedra, Fritz Oosthuizen and Elhombre!

On this day in motorsport

  • 25 years ago today Mauricio Gugelmin won an incident-filled CART IndyCar race at Vancouver for PacWest ahead of Jimmy Vasser and title rivals Gil de Ferran and Alex Zanardi

Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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15 comments on “Verstappen: Coming races may be ‘more difficult’ after Spa suited car ‘perfectly’”

  1. RB is probably planning on not turning it up to 11 unless they need it. Last weekend looked way too easy. I had no doubt Max would get on podium but he was up front in under 10 laps.

  2. It’s nice to do the birthday shout-outs here.
    I doubt though that these people are still regular readers as they haven’t posted for years.

  3. Perhaps not as dominant on all remaining tracks, but I reckon RBR will still be the outright fastest.

    Mclaren drivers weren’t the fastest at Kemmel straight’s end, though.

    The Speedcafe article is well-written & insightful.

    I agree with COTD.

    1. someone or something
      31st August 2022, 10:06

      The Speedcafe article is well-written & insightful.

      I thought it was a complete mess. It’s a fascinating topic, but for whatever reason, the author seems to have decided to play dumb and aks himself pseudo-insightful questions that should have collapsed into nothing if he hadn’t gone for the stream of consciousness kind of writing and instead made up his mind before publishing.
      For the author, the fact that Alpine didn’t simply promote Piastri is a complete mystery. Never mind the fact that the same article mentions that Alpine wanted a contract extension with Alonso.
      I mean, come on, that’s not a difficult puzzle. You can’t promote your second choice into the only vacant seat when you’re still trying to get your first choice to continue to fill that seat. Closing the door for Alonso for fear of losing Piastri, when your stated goal is to keep Alonso, that’d be weapon-grade stupid. Especially when you consider that Alpine were convinced that their contract with Piastri was still valid. Maybe they were foolish to believe that, but maybe they weren’t, and Piastri’s refusal to drive for them is a blatant violation of his contract. The jury is still out, no one seems to know the details, so I think it’s at least questionable to base whole chains of reasoning on the assumption that Piastri is blameless.
      Of course, you can disagree with Alpine’s driver preferences. But they were what they were, and their contract negotiations made sense in that context. It only becomes a mystery when the author imposes his own opinion on Alpine and then wonders why they didn’t act accordingly.

      And it gets worse.
      According to the author, Alpine’s preference for Alonso can only be explained in one of two ways:
      A) They wanted to keep Alonso for marketing reasons (which the author then goes on to refute as complete nonsense, one of those times where he should’ve just deleted what he wrote instead of arguing against a strawman that doesn’t even have anything to do with what Alpine were probably thinking)
      B) They just don’t think Piastri is good.

      Might be just me, but I reckon there is a gulf between (on the one hand) being good enough for F1, and (on the other hand) being good enough to drive Fernando freaking Alonso out of his seat. It’s hysterical. Especially when you consider that Alpine immediately turned to Piastri when Alonso said no. In other words: Piastri was good enough for Alpine, but they wanted Alonso even more. Absolutely no mystery here.
      Unless, and that is my impression, the author struggles to tell the difference between Alonso and, say, Latifi. In Latifi’s case, any driver considered good enough for F1 should be a candidate to replace Latifi. The only reason why that isn’t the case is money. Makes sense in Latifi’s case, doesn’t make sense in Alonso’s case.

      And the author does his best to stay on that level:

      So why, given all of the above, has Alpine chosen to fight his departure through the Contract Recognition Board?
      The answer to that, it seems, is the simplest of the lot; money.

      Or, you know, the fact that Alpine think they had a valid contract with Piastri, but he simply decided to break it? Who in their right mind would just shrug their shoulders and do absolutely nothing about it?
      The CRB is about to decide on that matter, and I think it’s foolish to ignore the possibility that Alpine were not to blame for the mess, but Piastri and his management simply broke their contract.

      The only thing I really learned from that article is the extent of the Piastri hype in Australia. It hasn’t only blinded fans, but at least this journalist as well.

      1. Interesting comment. Probably better than the article, which I have no interest in reading.

        I can promise you that not everyone in Australia thinks Piastri is all that amazing. After seeing his F3 and F2 seasons, I can safely say that just like Alpine, I’d prefer Alonso over him too.
        And if he’s heading to McLaren, then his career judgement is no better than Alonso’s either.

      2. The only thing I really learned from that article is the extent of the Piastri hype in Australia. It hasn’t only blinded fans, but at least this journalist as well.

        Make sure you don’t open the autoaction.com.au article ;)

  4. One shouldn’t negate the added pace from having the home crowd advantage for Max as well, last year he soaked it up and destroyed everyone. This time he’s under no pressure what-so-ever, I’d be worried if I was Ferrari.

    1. @sjaakfoo – I think it’s the lack of pressure that is making the big difference. It’s what we saw with Hamilton for several years… When you have the best driver on the grid in the best car on the grid and they are under no pressure at all, it’s a fairly potent mix and you get these sort of results where they look so dominant, it’s like watching a multi-class race.

    2. He didn’t destroy everyone last year, I hope you don’t look at the end gap only, I remember hamilton pitting for fastest lap, the mercedes was very quick and pressured him throughout the race, it was a sweated victory.

  5. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    31st August 2022, 9:03

    This is becoming very Mercedes like with Verstappen having to make the sort of claims that Lewis did to downplay the dominance the car has.

    Quite literally now ORBR just need to turn up. Engine penalties are no penalty either just as MB were able to show at Brazil.

    It is refreshing to have a new leader but Ferrari are nowhere and others are even further into nowhere even close such that we are back to one team dominance.

  6. Yes. It might be a little bit more difficult for him.

    1. It’ll certainly be more difficult to dominate the way he did. Ferrari have generally been pretty close on pace at most tracks so I think Spa was an exception rather than the way things will play out for the remainder of the season.

      It won’t be difficult to hold on to the lead of the Championship though because he doesn’t need to win races anymore. He can just go out there, enjoy himself and trust that Ferrari won’t do enough to make a big dent in his Championship lead.

  7. This is my tinfoil hat moment and this conspiracy theory has no basis in fact whatsoever, it is merely for my own entertainment.

    Red Bull were really strong this weekend but their closest rival, Ferrari, were not and have denied that the new FIA plank flex rules affected them. Interestingly, Red Bull have noted that their performance boost may be a result of the plank rules but didn’t mention that any work had been done to their car. However, Red Bull have been quite vocal about how the new directive is not a rule and, unconnected, about producing a new, lighter, chassis.

    This is the ‘Leftfield’ interpretation which has a very small chance of being even remotely close to the truth.

    Red Bull took it to the FIA that their new directive is not within the rules and cannot be enforced and struck a deal with the FIA for two things.
    Firstly, they would not make any adjustment to their current chassis to alleviate the plank flex as this is within the actual rules, not any ‘spirit’ as rightly so, a spirit is not enforceable and that probably, they could not make changes to the chassis because of technical reasons that would impart load into the chassis for which it is not designed or tested. Right or wrong, this is possible.
    Secondly, Red Bull gave a commitment that they could comply with the new plank flex rules only if they could produce a new chassis, outside of the cost cap rules which would be tested for the impact loadings of the bib etc. To be penalised financially for complying with a new rule that had no relevance at design stage is not ‘fair’ or within the spirit of the competition. The FIA, conscious that Red Bull are right, agreed and set a deadline of Singapore given the upcoming triple header in Europe not giving Red Bull time to build 2 new cars.

    This way, the FIA gets the compliance from Red Bull in the ‘spirit’ of the technical rules which they want, and Red Bull get their new chassis without being unfairly discriminated against on the grounds of having to produce an entirely new chassis in order to comply with an in season technical directive, which is not an enforceable rule. Saves the problem of the FIA courts, saves a load of bad PR for both and saves any inference of collusion, which there obviously is (in this tinfoil hat scenario).
    Red Bull haven’t been vocal lately about the cost cap and a change in the rules. Red Bull have been vocal in stating their new chassis is being produced in accordance with the cost cap. Red Bulls performance advantage increased at Spa, but really it didn’t, Ferrari lost ground and whilst Mercedes didn’t do well, were well matched with the Ferrari’s which they haven’t really or consistently been before in all phases of the race.

    The ‘obvious’ conclusion is that Ferrari made changes and Red Bull didn’t.

    Yes it really is totally unsupported by anything other than reading between the lines of what is not being said, no evidence whatsoever, and tenuous links to what are likely totally separate activities and performances, but it’s a compelling argument in my head despite it being way out there. The FIA is well versed in these kind of behind a veil of secrecy shenanigans and has no mandate or policy of disclosure as ‘what is in the public interest’ is irrelevant as the FIA’s sole job is to protect the image of the FIA.

    Now that conspiracy theory is out there, I will cut all ties with it as it’s complete hogwash, but I had fun writing it :)

    1. As it was only Verstappen who was super fast in Spa, and Perez, Ferrari, Mercedes slotted in where we expected them, I think it must have been something much more ingenious.
      All Dutch fans were instructed (and secretly trained) to blow simultaneously to create a strong wind pushing Verstappen’s car on the straights, and a huge headwind in the braking zones and corners.

      1. The thing is, red bull was quick enough for perez to easily get 2nd, that’s unusual! If perez is so quick, it’s no wonder verstappen flies, so yes, the car was super strong.

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