Gianpiero Lambiase, Max Verstappen’s race engineer, revealed that the 2021 Formula 1 season was a crucial year for their relationship, cementing it ever since.
That was the epic season in which Verstappen won his maiden F1 Title in the last lap of the last race in Abu Dhabi after a titanic battle with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, and was the opening of a dominant run for the Dutchman and Red Bull.
Lambiase was speaking in an interview in Red Bull’s Talking Bull podcast, and was asked about his relationship with the triple F1 Champion, especially after the pair recently engaged in heated radio discussions this year, triggering speculation about their relationship.
But the British Italian engineer insisted his relationship with his driver is too strong to be shaken by a few heated moments here and there.
He said: “We know each other inside out and we know what triggers the other one, or how to perhaps coax or put the arm around the other one’s shoulder.
“I think we know how to manage ourselves out of a difficult situation and also enjoy the better situations,” he added.
However, Lambiase revealed dealing with Verstappen was tough in the days when Red Bull couldn’t produce a competitive car.
He looked back: “I think, perhaps until three years ago, I think perhaps ’18, ’19, ‘20 when the car wasn’t quite as competitive as we, the team, would have liked, but I think especially Max [would have liked] – because at that point, you could see his frustration coming through already that he wasn’t able to compete for championships at that point – and we had a few ups and downs, I would say in that period, the middle third, fourth, fifth years.
Lambiase: I see him as my little brother
“But I think 2021 was so intense, I think… the relationship and the bond was cemented that year, and then last year and this year’s just been a continuation of that. And yeah, I see him as my little brother,” he maintained.
Verstappen has been winning everything this year breaking one record after the other, his dominance compared to nothing seen in F1 before, and while he is currently on 52 wins, he has not plans to slow down, and as things stand, there is no reason why he should.
“[I was asked] for one word to describe Max and I think the word was ‘insatiable’,” Lambiase pointed out, “which I think goes for me as well, in that no matter how many races we win or how many championships we have won or could win, I think the point is, I don’t think we’re ever happy and our bar is so high.
“I’d say we’re both perfectionists in that respect, in that nothing is ever good enough. And I think that’s what really motivates us to just keep doing what we’re doing, following the process and achieving the best that we can.
“My biggest fear is the moment that we do have increased competition and we’re not winning every race, because you see how he’s treating me at the moment – and he’s winning every race!” the 43-year-old engineer joked in conclusion.
Big Question: What do you think of Lambiase’s and Verstappen’s relationship?