Emerson Fittipaldi urged Max Verstappen to be patient and savour his own stellar drive from P15 to second place in Sunday’s 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, rather than slam his team afterwards.
The tussle between Verstappen and Perez was intense, with far superior cars on Sunday (and probably for the rest of the season) the pair, disappeared into the distance, a second or more faster than anything their rivals could muster, with Verstappen storming to second place by lap 25, the halfway mark.
Thereafter ensued a fascinating game of cat and mouse as the pair traded fastest laps for the remainder of the race. But despite throwing all he had at it, Max had no answer for Checo, for the first time since they have been teammates at RBR. Team Verstappen was not happy, the World Champion defiantly stating he should have been the winner.
Speaking to Kelbet.it, Fittipaldi had some sage advice for Max: “Every athlete has their own feelings after a race, but if I had finished second there after the race to have started from the back of the grid, I would have been very happy.
“There is always the next race, he has a new chance to win there, and they were still good points. Also, don’t forget how tough this job is. It’s very easy to have an incident or crash in Jeddah, there are walls everywhere and they drive there at top speeds of up to 340 kph. On the same type of track as Monaco! It’s a tough race.
“So, if I was Max I’d be extremely happy that in the end, it was a trouble-free race and I was still able to score a nice number of points by finishing second. I think the team did a good job. Yes, there was a problem in qualifying, but he has a whole team working hard for him and I think given the circumstances he drove a fantastic race.”
Emmo: It will be difficult for F1 rivals to challenge the Red Bulls over a race distance
With no team close to the Red Bulls when in full flight at the two Middle East races, with evidence even more blatant in Saudi Arabia this past weekend, what will salvage this F1 title fight is if Perez stands up to Verstappen as he did so effectively, and unusually last Sunday evening, more often.
Fittipaldi ventured of such a contest between the two RBR teammates: “Red Bull seems to have a lot more downforce than the rest. They seem to have found something on that front, the car is much more stable on track and the tires last much longer too.
“It will be difficult for the others to challenge over a race distance. In qualifying, if new tyres are used, they may still be able to come close but on the long runs the Red Bull [RB19] is much better with its tyres, which seems to be a big advantage.
“Checo showed in Jeddah that he has the speed. At a certain point in the race, when Max was second and Checo was in the lead, Max tried to close the gap but he didn’t succeed, because Checo was able to set a good pace.
“He showed himself to be a fast and tough racer at that time. I think he’s a good driver. He is very mature and very experienced. It would be great for the fans to see those two fight for the championship,” concluded Fittipaldi, a two-time F1 World Champion, just like Verstappen.