Two DNFs in any championship are hard for a driver to swallow, and if you are reigning Formula 1 World Champion Max Verstappen even more so according to Red Bull‘s Helmut Marko who warns that the Dutch ace is a timebomb ready to explode.
Podiums if not victories, in Bahrain and Australia, were on the cards until the former Honda PU, now built in-house by Red Bull Powertrains let Verstappen down and apparently he is seething.
Speaking to ORF TV, Marko said of Verstappen’s demeanour ahead of this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola: “With the set-up of the car, sometimes you lack the confidence to maintain his extreme driving style. You can see that this allows Checo [Perez] to be closer to him than in the past. If we don’t win again soon, then he is a time bomb!”
But at the same time, the 24-year-old has shown maturity amid the disappointments, which Marko acknowledged: “He is a lot calmer. After his DNF in Melbourne, he returned to the pits and we discussed things calmly.”
“However, in this case, we knew we could run into that problem, because we also had to deal with that in qualifying, so it didn’t come out of the blue in that regard. He is an emotional and passionate driver who will always give his opinion. But, in my view, he is a lot calmer than in the past,” insisted Marko.
Whatever the case, after three rounds in this year’s marathon Championship contest the facts are harsh as Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, Verstappen’s main rival for this year’s title, has 71 points thanks to two wins, in Bahrain and Australia, and a second-place to Max in Jeddah.
Thus ther Red Bull driver has only 25 points to his name and will be out to make amends in Imola’s Sprint Race format weekend; another DNF cannot be countenanced if the Bulls intend to take the fight to Ferrari who appear to have a bullet-proof and very fast car in the F1-75.
Leclerc’s season has been stellar thus far, almost faultless to this point. However, he will be reeling from being robbed when late at night in Tuscany he was targeted by autograph hunters and his watch stolen.
Although unlikely to impact his on-track performance, the experience was unsavoury ahead of his team’s home race.