Red Bull had a nightmare of an afternoon at their home race, the Austrian Grand Prix did not go to plan for the team who were tipped as most likely to upset Mercedes in this campaign but that did not happen at the season opener.
On lap 11 Verstappen was out with a technical issue and more disappointment followed when Alex Albon was pointed out of the race by Lewis Hamilton, when the Thai driver was in good shape for a podium and, possibly, even a win.
As much as the victories in 2018 and 2019 were memorable, this weekend at Dietrich Mateschitz’s track is utterly forgettable for the Blues.
Max Verstappen: “I’m not quite sure what happened yet, we’ll investigate and find out but of course that’s not how you want to start the season. I had a good start, unlike last year, and quite early on I could see that Valtteri was quick so fighting for the win was always going to be a big challenge.
“I think it would have been an easy podium and third would have been a decent start to the season but what can you do? This is racing and it is what it is, you can’t change the result now. It is a shame for everyone who worked so hard to get us here this weekend but we will just focus on the race next week and hope for something better.”
Alex Albon: It’s still quite fresh so I’ve got to be careful what I say but there’s nothing to add apart from how frustrating that is. I really think we could have easily won that race. We had a great strategy, the guys did a great job in the pit stops, yes we had a little bit of fortune with the Safety Car, but the car was feeling good.
“The hard tyre wasn’t very strong today and I knew the Mercedes would have cold tyres on the re-start, so I already planned to get past them within a few laps of the Safety Car coming in. I feel like I had completed the move on Lewis already, and I was thinking about getting Bottas on the next lap. The contact with Lewis was so late in the corner that it surprised me.
“I was right on the edge of the track and I knew if I gave him all the space I could it would be up to him if he wants to crash or not. This time I was the one on the attack and he was defending. I wouldn’t say this one hurts more than Brazil but that incident was maybe 50/50 whereas this one isn’t. Obviously we’ve got next weekend to focus on now, we’ll need a bit of luck to have the same opportunity as today, but let’s see.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal: “It was a very frustrating first race and I’m almost lost for words. Losing Max early on whilst he was running in second place on a better tyre was obviously painful but we still had Alex in a good position. Alex was putting in a very strong performance, strategically we got the call right to concede a position to the Racing Point but take on a new soft tyre.
“At the re-start, Alex passed Lewis and inexplicably for the second time in three races Lewis has hit him and taken him out of the race. It was clearly a misjudgement by Lewis which he received a penalty for but that still cuts deep for Alex. We then had to retire the car with what looks like a PU issue, which will now be investigated.
“It’s hugely frustrating to come away from this race with a double DNF and no points, when we could have been in a position to win. The positives are that we looked to be having a competitive race but we still have a bit of pace to find ahead of next weekend.”