Max Verstappen and Gianpiero Lambiase have learned how to work together in recent years. After several difficult years, the Red Bull Racing driver is now having a very dominant period in Formula 1. That does not mean that the tantrums behind the wheel have disappeared, although it sometimes seems that the discussions between Verstappen and his racing engineer are not always be sincere. Verstappen indicates that he can occasionally give Lambiase a hard time, but that the discussions are sincere.
Verstappen is currently in his eighth season at Red Bull. The relationship with racing engineer Lambiase has only developed during those years. Without that time together, the relationship would not have been as good, Verstappen believes. “I don’t think there is a secret at all,” says the driver on the Talking Bull podcast. ‘You just have to get along well with each other and tell each other what you need. We have grown so much into our roles in recent years; I don’t even have to say anything anymore before he already knows what he needs to change. That just takes time.’
Lambiase agrees with the Dutchman’s words. In the period that the Red Bull duo has spent together, both men have also learned to say everything to each other. ‘Time and experience are the most important factors. At the same time, it is also important that you feel like you can be yourself. Max can be himself with me and I can be myself with him. We don’t avoid problems, so if we have to be honest with each other, then we are.’
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In the heat of the battle, Verstappen can sometimes utter a swear word. However, respect for each other will always be there. ‘If we sound a little upset or angry over the on-board radio, people immediately think we are having an argument. That’s really not the case. If I raise my voice, it’s mainly because I’m full of adrenaline. If I’m not happy with something and he just says copy or thank you, then I can’t do anything with that either. Of course, respect remains very important.’
Fake arguments between Verstappen and Lambiase?
This season there is little reason to argue about the on-board radio. Verstappen already has his third world title in his hands and was able to win most races with ease. Yet there have been plenty of heated on-board radios, which are always sincere according to Verstappen. ‘We have never fabricated a discussion. Sometimes I’m a bit cheeky, of course. That certainly won’t stop.’ However, Lambiase does think that Verstappen sometimes deliberately stirs things up when he is in the lead. “I really think you’re bored sometimes.”
‘Even if we have a lead of 30 seconds, I will still try to maximize everything and take it seriously. I have the feeling that he then loses his concentration a bit and thinks: come on GP, relax a bit,” says the race engineer laughing. A good example is this year’s Belgian Grand Prix. Verstappen had to manage his tires, but the driver actually wanted to drive faster so he could do some pit stop training. “Then I hear: no, we don’t have to do that today,” Verstappen laughs.
“At the same time I also had Christian (Horner, ed.) in my ear who said: no, no, we don’t need that,” Lambiase adds. Verstappen did not enter that race either, something that did happen during the Austrian Grand Prix. At that time, the Dutchman’s lead was so large that Red Bull dared to risk a pit stop to set the fastest lap. “Sometimes there is a reason behind such messages, but often it is also a bit of fun,” said Verstappen.