Reigning WDC champion Max Verstappen leads the 2023 WDC standings by 1 point owing to his P2 finish at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
On the other hand, Max Verstappen suffered a driveshaft issue in Q2 qualifying session on Saturday, which resulted in him starting the race in 15th place. He stormed through the grid throughout the race and by the end of the race, was catching up to teammate and race leader, Sergio Perez. In the post-race interview, we found out that Max Verstappen was less than impressed with the race, pointing his finger at the Red Bull engineers.
Max Verstappen on the Saudi Arabian GP
Verstappen was asked about how long he thinks Red Bull can maintain a gap to the rest of the grid and he replied “Well, I hope of course a long time. But it’s not only about the pace of the car, we need to make sure we are reliable without any issues.” He continued, saying that he also noticed a change from testing to the Bahrain GP and that he was surprised that after 3 positive practice sessions, his car gave up.
A good recovery 💪
Happy to be on the podium here in Jeddah. This is a great team result 🙌 @redbullracing @HondaRacingGLB pic.twitter.com/pfEDOP0WrX
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) March 19, 2023
The Dutchman continued “Of course, I recovered to second which is good, and in general the whole feeling in the team, everyone is happy, but personally I’m not happy, because I’m not here to be second”. He also emphasized that he worked hard at the factory to fine-tune the car and did not expect to have to do a recovery race and reckons that he is fighting for a championship and that it is between him and Perez.
When he was asked what he expected from himself in the final race, he answered: “I never really think about it, but I think realistically with or without the Safety Car, I think P2 was the highest possible.”
The 2X champion elaborated that at the beginning of the race was really hard to follow cars due to the street circuit, the fast corners, and the walls being all very close. He mentioned that there was a tailwind effect that made the car a bit all over the place. However, after a few laps, things started to settle in a bit better for him, and he was able to pick off the cars one by one while maintaining a good pace.
MAX VERSTAPPEN IS OUT OF QUALIFYING FOR THE SAUDI ARABIAN GRAND PRIX.
— WTF1 (@wtf1official) March 18, 2023
He further elaborated on why he could not contend for P1 by saying “The Safety Car of course helped me a bit to get back in the race, but even with that in the restart you just lose too much time to Checo [Perez], for example. So, once I got into P2, it was quite a decent gap on a track where there is not a lot of deg.”
Verstappen was also heard reporting yet again a driveshaft issue in the later leg of the race that hindered him from chasing Sergio Perez too. He continued, “I tried to close the gap a bit, but at one point I picked up these vibrations on the driveshaft, on the rear,”.
Re-confirming the top 10 in Saudi Arabia 📊#SaudiArabianGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/9FpHavGyUl
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 19, 2023
He stands at 44 points, just a point above his teammate Checo Perez who stands in 2nd place with 43 points. Perez won the Saudi Arabian GP after getting the pole in qualifying and keeping the lead for almost the whole of the race. Red Bull stands comfortably at 87 points in the first place, trailed by Aston Martin with 38 points in total. Their team looks to extend their lead in the Australian Grand Prix, which is scheduled for the first week of April.