Verstappen’s race | Verstappen was completely done with traffic: ‘F*cking finally!’

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Verstappen's race |  Verstappen was completely done with traffic: 'F*cking finally!'

In ‘Verstappen’s race’, Max Verstappen’s race weekend is put under the magnifying glass. This way you will find out things that you may have missed during the broadcast. Verstappen took his hundredth podium in Jeddah and once again provided Red Bull Racing with an excellent result together with Sergio Pérez. The three-time world champion was once again very consistent.

On Thursday afternoon and Friday afternoon it became clear that Verstappen would again enter the race weekend as the favorite for victory. The Dutchman recorded excellent lap times in the free practice sessions and it was also clear from the long runs that the RB20 was head and shoulders above the competition. The Dutchman was not in the spotlight much during the weekend, he just drove his laps and crossed the line first. It is described very easily that way, but it is of course clear that it is extremely special that Verstappen ‘simply’ repeated the weekend in Bahrain.

‘I have to be honest, that round was quite spot-on’

On Friday evening there had to be qualifying first and Verstappen immediately clocked the fastest lap on a brand new set of softs. Engineer Gianpiero Lambiase had virtually nothing to say to his driver, who was on a run plan that consisted of a warm-up lap, a push lap and a cooling lap. Then Verstappen went back inside. Only late in Q1 did he come out again to chase Charles Leclerc from P1. He succeeded, he dipped more than a tenth under the Monegasque’s time. Lambiase asked him to drive back to the pits to prepare for Q2. In the second part of qualifying, Verstappen drove out behind his teammate. “Keep the engine on, Max, another minute until green,” Lambiase said.

“What’s the hole?” the Dutchman asked. “Twelve seconds,” said the engineer. Verstappen warmed up and then started. Lambiase had nothing special to report, his lap was flawless and gave him the fastest time so far. Fernando Alonso was closer than his teammate, at 44 thousandths. Leclerc completed the top three at that time. Pérez closed in on P4. Later in Q2, Verstappen went out again, but he remained first. After a short break it was time for Q3 again. “Keep me informed what the gap is,” the Red Bull driver requested. ‘Only Fernando in front of you, the gap is eleven seconds. You can go whenever you want,” Lambiase replied.

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Verstappen's race |  Verstappen was completely done with traffic: 'F*cking finally!'
No one could match Verstappen in qualifying. (Photo: Red Bull Content Pool/Getty Images)

Just like in Q1 and Q2, Verstappen drove another lap at the end of Q3. Once again Red Bull had sent him out at the right time, and he had plenty of room to warm up his tyres. ‘The gap for you to Piastri is seven seconds, shouldn’t be a problem. “Norris before that is already gone,” the engineer said. His first time was good enough for pole position. “I didn’t have the sync grip for some reason. But I have to be honest, that first lap was quite spot-on,” said Verstappen. ‘Leclerc P2 on a 27.8. We are waiting for Fernando and Stroll,” said Lambiase. ‘Fernando P4, 27.8. Stroll P10, so well done, that is pole.’ Verstappen was satisfied with that. ‘That was a good qualification. The car drove on rails, very well. Well done, everyone. Good starting position for tomorrow.’

Cold, hard tires: ‘This set is slippery!’

After Verstappen started the race from pole position on Saturday evening, one task still awaited him: win. The three-time world champion had a good start and managed to keep Leclerc behind him at the start. Shortly afterwards, Leclerc had become Pérez’s prey, so he didn’t have to worry about that. After a lap or two, the Limburger was already out of DRS distance from Leclerc. “The gap is one second,” Lambiase said. A few laps later, Pérez managed to outpace Leclerc. “It’s two seconds now, now to Checo,” the engineer informed. ‘Front wing update?’ Lambiase asked next. “Yes, everything is fine,” replied the Dutchman, who said something for the first time since the start of the race.

The next report was about the yellow flags in sector three, where Lance Stroll had entered the wall. ‘Double yellow there now, and the safety car comes on track. We’re going to make a pit stop,” the Brit continued. The three-time world champion exchanged his mediums for a new set of hard tires and took to the track behind Norris. McLaren had decided not to bring him in. “Okay, so in front of you is Norris, he hasn’t stopped. And behind you is Hamilton, also not stopped. Both on mediums,” Lambiase said. “Do your best to cool the car, Max.” The safety car remained on track while Stroll’s car was towed off the circuit. When that was done, the safety car went in. Norris could therefore choose where he would resume the race. He did that at a tactical moment, but it was clear that it would not take long before Verstappen would overtake him.

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RB20 Max Verstappen Saudi Arabia
Verstappen made use of a ‘free’ stop during the safety car. (Photo: Pirelli)

However, the Red Bull driver was in no hurry. “The gap behind you is five tenths,” Lambiase informed. ‘DRS is now available.’ Just a few laps later the gap was almost two seconds, and it was clear that the Mercedes driver could not match the pace of the RB20. At the start of the thirteenth lap, Verstappen took back the lead in the race from Norris. The gap quickly became a second, and then the Dutchman was able to steadily move forward. ‘These tires are a bit slippery at the moment!’ Verstappen said. “Understood, Max,” Lambiase replied. “The gap is 4.4,” he continued. The Dutchman had some difficulty getting the hard tire to work, but once he got a good temperature in it, there was no problem.

Peace and tranquility on the on-board radio

The gap between him and Pérez may not have widened that quickly, but it was clear that Verstappen was closing in. “We’ve done 25 laps now, Max, there’s still 25 to go,” said Lambiase. Verstappen had virtually nothing to report to his engineer after the tires were also warm. The gap to Pérez was eight seconds, and behind that, between the Mexican and Leclerc, the gap was nine seconds. Pérez had received a five-second penalty for an unsafe release, which was after all his own fault because he indicated that he was already driving away while the team said it was not possible yet, but the gap to Leclerc was still big enough. Red Bull was at the front in its own no man’s land. The viewer was not in for much of a spectacle, as a one-stopper was the most obvious strategy.

Verstappen had switched to the hard tire early in the race, so he no longer had to stop. “On that last lap you received a first warning for track limits, in turn 23,” Lambiase said. The 26-year-old was pushing, clocking the fastest race lap on lap 37. Hamilton and Norris decided to make a pit stop, causing the Mercedes driver to drop behind Leclerc. The gap between the Red Bull drivers and the Monegasque had increased to twelve seconds. A few laps later, Verstappen ran into traffic, the first blue flags were for Valtteri Bottas. Lambiase let Verstappen navigate his way through the traffic himself, as the engineer said nothing at all, and neither did the driver himself.

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RB20 Max Verstappen Saudi Arabia RB20 Red Bull Racing
Unthreatened to victory in Jeddah. (Photo: Red Bull Content Pool/Getty Images)

Verstappen finally got through: ‘Fucking finally!’

It took a while for Verstappen to overtake all the stragglers, and while he was doing so, his tires cooled down. So not exactly ideal. ‘Fucking finally!’ said Verstappen after overtaking the latter. There were also only two laps to go, so the finish was in sight. In Jeddah, Verstappen took his 56th victory and his hundredth podium. “Good job, buddy. You had everything under control,” Lambiase said. ‘Yes, that was a great race. The tires were a bit cold, but we had a good pace, good management, and a good weekend.’

Team boss Christian Horner also came to say something. ‘You did that clinically, Max. Well done,” said the team boss. “Yep, another good result for the team,” responded the three-time world champion. “You just missed the fastest lap of the race, it was something like a tenth,” said Horner. ‘That’s right. I had no energy left,” Verstappen explained. “Luckily you had that for the rest of the race,” Horner replied. “Yes, this time!” concluded Verstappen.

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