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Verstappen: Basically driving with handbrake on

Verstappen: It was basically driving with handbrake on

Verstappen: Basically driving with handbrake on

Max Verstappen retired from the 2024 Australian Grand Prix on Sunday after suffering from a brake failure, ending an impressive run of results for the Dutchman.

Verstappen hasn’t lost a race since Singapore 2023 (a race Carlos Sainz won) and hasn’t retired from a race since the 2022 Australian Grand Prix, but all good things have to come to an end, and for the triple Formula 1 Champion, that happened on Sunday in the first few laps of the 2024 F1 race down under.

Verstappen didn’t seem to be able to open up the gap to Sainz at the start of the race, then lost the car into Turn 3 allowing the latter to get close and pass him in Turn 9, after which the #1 RB20 started deteriorating with smoke coming out of its rear.

Moments later, Verstappen parked it in the team garage, flames coming out of his rear right brake duct, race over and an early shower for the Red Bull ace.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 about his retirement, Verstappen said: “What we can see so far from the data is that as soon as the lights went off the right-rear brake just stuck on.

“It just caused the damage and it kept on increasing so it was also basically driving with the handbrake on,” he added.

“That’s why the car felt really weird to drive in some corners, just very snappy, while the laps to the grid the car was really spot on and I was happy with what we were doing. But if a brake is stuck on it doesn’t help.

“It’s not ideal,” he later told the media. “Of course you always want to finish the races but it’s a mechanical sport.

“These things unfortunately happen, but I think it’s the most important that we understand why it happened,” the winner of 56 grands prix maintained.

Verstappen: A shame, the car felt good

Later in Red Bull’s post race brief, Verstappen added: “It’s a shame as the car felt really good in the laps to the grid, but you cannot control these issues and these things happen.

“Of course, I am disappointed we didn’t finish the race as we had a good shot at winning and the car has been improving throughout the weekend.

“We knew a day like could come at some point so we need to be proud that we have had a great run with nine races in a row and we can come back stronger for Suzuka,” Verstappen concluded.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner reflected on the Verstappen’s DNF, he said: “It’s a brake issue and it looked like it was on since the start of the race which is why Max described it as like having a handbrake and caused him to have a couple of moments as the heat was building and building and the result is a fire.

“We will go through the damage and understand what’s caused it,” the Briton added.

Verstappen was clearly upset in the team garage after his retirement, Horner commented: “A driver is always going to be frustrated when they get out of the car from a retirement.

“He’s been very gracious with the team. That DNF hurts everyone in the same way. It’s a matter of learning from it and understanding what caused it.

“Remarkable after three races he’s still leading the World Championship even with that DNF. A lot of lessons learned today,” Horner admitted.

Matters not much better on the other side of the Red Bull garage

Matters were not any better in the second Red Bull, as Sergio Perez, starting from sixth after his three-place grid penalty for impeding Nico Hulkenberg in qualifying, had an underwhelming race to fifth, unable to go up the order and even get close to the McLarens and the leading Ferraris.

“We just didn’t have the pace unfortunately,” the Mexican lamented. “I think we struggled early on. We could see Ferrari and McLaren were a step ahead of us.

“We couldn’t get the balance into the window. There’s some work to do for the coming races. It was a very unique tarmac and throughout the weekend we were not able to manage the best possible grip level.

“Just as a team we didn’t have the pace throughout the weekend,” Perez added. “We were struggling already from Friday and never got on top of the management of tyres. We just have to understand and improve.

“We already saw on a track like this, like Vegas, Ferrari were stronger than us and we couldn’t look after our front tyres,” he pointed out.

Quizzed whether Ferrari would’ve won regardless of his teammate’s DNF, Perez claimed: “Absolutely yes.”

However, Horner had some explanation to Perez’s struggles around Albert Park, he revealed: “He’s [Perez] probably not aware from it but he picked up some damage and lost a significant amount of downforce from the floor of the car when he passed Fernando.

“As soon as you get that, your tyre deg gets worse. We were just not good at the end of the stints, which is an unusual trait for our cars. We need to understand that.

“I have to congratulate Carlos Sainz today after going through surgery. What a great performance by him and his Ferrari team today,” Horner concluded.

Despite their tough weekend down under, Red Bull still lead the 2024 F1 Constructors’ Championship, but Ferrari are now only four points behind the reigning Champions in second, following their one-two in Melbourne.