We all hoped that Jeddah would prove that the Formula 1 World Championship title was not over before it had started, but from a constructor’s perspective it’s done and dusted – Red Bull are taking it home again. As for the 2023 F1 drivers’ contest, well that door is still open, for the moment…
The Red Bull pit box should be a place of serene calm and confidence, and prior to Jeddah, it probably was. Then Max Verstappen’s driveshaft failed in Q2, consigning him to starting fifteenth on the grid while his teammate, Sergio Perez, went on to fly the team flag and take pole position.
It’ll be all right on the night
Despite his lowly qualifying position, based on Max’s and the RB19’s recent performance and the propensity for the Jeddah circuit to throw up numerous Safety Cars, everyone, including Red Bull, presumed he would carve up the field and win the race by ten or more seconds. And then he didn’t.
Instead, his teammate matched lap time for lap time, despite the Red Bull pits trying to cool it all down. It was clear that Max could make no inroads on the mercurial Mexican that day, but it didn’t stop him from trying to and canning the car in the process.
Many would say his “never say die” approach is a strength, but I would argue that it’s the one chink in his armor; and one that until last Sunday, I thought he’d dealt with. He delivered a superb drive with a comfortable second in the bag and could have saved the car for another day together with the PU.
Particularly as reliability and replacement of components come with such heavy penalties this season. There’s no point in winning a battle if it then weakens your chances to win the war. Never has Sir Jackie Stewart’s maxim of winning a race in the slowest possible time been so pertinent.
Nurse, Nurse, he’s out of his bed again.
As Checo started to celebrate his victory, enter stage left the King of Karting Dads, Jos Verstappen. A couple of years ago the good doctor told him to close the pit box door from the outside after he started briefing the press against the team.
Since then, he’s been allowed back in and it seems that once again, as with all Karting Dads, if you give them inch, they’ll take your arm, and wallet, burn down your house and nail your dog to garden fence.
Apparently, his behaviour towards Checo at the award ceremony warranted another talking to from the good doctor. In hindsight, it could have been worse, being Jos, he could have punched him!
However, I’m a little confused as to why he was so upset with Perez. Does he really expect him to bend over and hand Max the win? If Jos had any ire, surely it should be with the team.
Say hello to my little demands…
Meanwhile, Perez is out of contract next year and has nothing to lose. It seems he’s quite comfortable with the car and Max is going to have to beat him on the track. To be fair, I would expect him to come out on top, but if he’s so easily rattled at this stage of the season well, who knows?
Last time Checo had the weaker negotiating hand, but now he’s in the driving seat. If he continues to beat Max, they may need to ask him to step back, and that, I think, is going to cost Red Bull a few dollars more.