Formula 1 Champion Max Verstappen is still recovering from a stomach bug that affected his race in Saudi Arabia and is looking forward to a break after Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.
The Dutchman finished runner-up behind Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez at Jeddah despite feeling ropey through the race weekend.
Although feeling a lot better since Saudi and optimistic about Melbourne, Verstappen told reporters at Albert Park on Thursday he was looking forward to the unusually long, three-week break before the fourth race in Baku.
“Well, a couple of weeks ago, I would say that I was not looking forward to it,” he said of the break. “But then I got really ill and (have) just been struggling a bit since that time, especially the last result.
Targeting a return to full fitness
“So for me now this release is just getting back to like full fitness, getting a full programme in,” he added.
With Verstappen having won the first race in Bahrain ahead of Perez, Red Bull are well clear in the championship standings and hopeful of ending a victory drought in Melbourne dating back to Sebastian Vettel’s 2011 win.
Verstappen, bidding for a hat-trick of F1 championships, was forced to retire in last year’s race as Red Bull struggled with reliability early in the season before ultimately dominating.
The car is decidedly in better health than the same period last year, even if a drive-shaft failure during qualifying in Jeddah condemned Verstappen to starting 15th on the grid.
“We’ve never really been that good in the beginning of the year,” he said.
“I think we have a good chance, of course, for a result but we do need to execute a good weekend.” (Reporting by Ian Ransom)