Max Verstappen always speaks in the we form when it comes to problems with the Red Bull, unlike others who point to the team and say ‘you’. His angry rant was something that happens in the heat of battle – it sounded worse than it was. Everyone knows that he is performing at his maximum, and demands the same from the team.
It’s not nice to hear, but after all these years they know that Max gets the most out of the material they provide him. And he won yesterday, don’t forget. Things were looking difficult after the Melbourne retirement, but Red Bull is back in the lead in both championships, thanks to the team mentality. They work hard and if things go wrong, no one is spared. Verstappen did make a rare mistake with that gust of wind, although he handled it well: he didn’t lose as much time as Sainz did after a similar mistake.
Sainz is making too many mistakes at the moment, he is clearly not at Leclerc’s level. He really has to be driving on the edge all the time to keep up with Charles. That shouldn’t happen with a car that can win races and the championship. Ending up behind a Mercedes and missing out on the podium was not a good day for him. Leclerc will undoubtedly also be frustrated after the retirement. He drove an amazing qualifying lap, took the lead and didn’t have to push – until his turbo seemed to give up. I think we are seeing so many reliability issues because teams are pushing the boundaries. Mercedes didn’t have to do that in the past, because they have a superior engine.
I think they have found something at Mercedes now, because they were able to overtake on the straights. But let’s not exaggerate either: Russell made the podium because a Ferrari retired. Hamilton finished higher than he expected after the tussle with Magnussen. I thought his initial reaction, that he would rather have stopped after one lap, was strange. That’s not a driver who wants to fight, as if he knew he wasn’t going to beat his teammate any more. Although at the end we did see flashes of the old Hamilton when he climbed up the field. But Russell has found his place in the team, he’s above his expensive teammate in the World Championship – and that stings.
Valtteri Bottas is one of the surprises for me this season. His race strategy was strange, but he was still strong. He is relaxed, not under pressure and is performing well. He reminds me of Heinz-Harald Frentzen or Giancarlo Fisichella, they also flourished when they moved to a lesser team from a top team. Some time later they showed that they were ready to return to a top team. Perez is another example of this. It didn’t work out at McLaren, but at Red Bull things are going a lot better now.
He was very disappointed yesterday, but Red Bull’s tactics were right. It feels weird to move aside when you’re in the lead. But he had older tyres and Max was faster – he’d already caught up with Sergio. So there’s no point letting them fight lap after lap and damage the tyres. Of course Verstappen comes first, he is above him in the championship, he is the number 1 and the world champion. Simple.’