Max Verstappen wasn’t overly sympathetic with the plight of Charles Leclerc at the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, putting it down simply that sh!t happens.
The reigning Formula 1 Champion experienced the same pain in last year’s race in Baku, as his retired from the race due to failed Pirelli tyre, a handful of laps away from the end.
However, the tables turned this year, and Leclerc was on the receiving end of bad luck, as his Ferrari power unit got busted while leading, and the Dutchman was there to pick up the pieces.
It’s anyone’s guess how thing would have turned out had Leclerc remained in contention, as Verstappen was showing strong pace throughout the race, but in the end it is what it is.
Asked if he sympathized with Leclerc, the Dutchman told the media: “I would always say, sh!t happens. That’s racing, you know?
“It happened to me, it happened to many people in the past, unfortunately it’s happening to Charles,” he simply reasoned.
Verstappen advises Leclerc to stay on it
“Yes, if I would be in the same situation, I would also be disappointed, I think that’s very normal, but it’s about how you come out of it,” the Red Bull driver added.
“You always look at how to improve things – that’s what we did at the beginning of the season,” he went on. “You learn from it, you don’t like it, you’re angry, but we turned it around.
“You always have to stay on it because something else might happen and you always have to prevent these issues from happening,” he warned.
Later, Verstappen reflected on his fifth win of the season in the team’s race report, saying: “Today we had incredible pace in the car, we could really look after the tyres and we could chip away for the lead.
“Checo did a good job at the start getting ahead of Charles, I got blocked in and couldn’t go anywhere. Once I was on the hard tyres and in the lead and I could just manage it and could control the gap.
“It would have been good to have had a battle with Charles today but he had a DNF,” the 24-year-old stated.
“To get a 1-2 for the Team was really good, we’ve scored some good points today and made the gap bigger to Ferrari. There’s still a long way to go, it’s a long season so we need to keep pushing as a Team,” Verstappen concluded.
A mature drive from Verstappen
Red Bull boss Christian Horner told the media: “It is a mature win for Max. It was a redemption from last year. He had a mature drive. Like a Lemans drive.”
He added in the team report: “It’s a fantastic result for us today on a track that never fails to deliver the unexpected.
“I think it’s a shame that the fans didn’t get to see how the strategy would have played out today, Ferrari stopped very early under that virtual safety car, and with us going onto the hard tyre that much later, I think that would have given us the advantage towards the end of the race,” he explained.
“But we managed to capitalise on the events within the race with both drivers driving fantastically. We asked them to race each other cleanly and fairly and that’s what they did.
“They’re doing a great job for the Team and we’re very proud of what the whole team has achieved today,” Horner concluded.