Last weekend, Max Verstappen’s 2018 season continued to look rather rookie like at Bahrain when the young Dutchman span out inexplicably during qualifying.
A dejected Verstappen, who was fourth in Q1 at the time of the mistake, reported that he was “OK” but started Sunday’s race from 15th. Having moved up the order in an impressive fashion, the Red Bull driver clashed with Lewis Hamilton, ending the race for Max.
“It was unfortunate,” said Verstappen after qualifying in Bahrain. “I studied the data and suddenly we had a 150 horsepower increase which is a bit odd because the corner is not flat out so you are just juggling the throttle.”
“It was like an on and off switch and suddenly span the rear tyres up quite aggressively and I spun. I didn’t expect it at all. 150 horsepower when you think you are on the limit is quite a lot.”
Nearly a week on and Autosport are this morning reporting that Horner denies any electrical glitch, causing this mythical “150 horsepower surge” Verstappen is blaming.
“It wasn’t a stuck throttle,” Horner told Autosport. “I think when he got high on the kerb there was an oscillation on the foot. It was fairly obvious. The gearshift around there has always been a bit lumpy, and I think it was a combination of that, pushing flat out, up on the kerb, oscillation with the foot.”
Engine supplier Renault also confirms there was nothing wrong with their Power Unit.
“The engine has done exactly what the throttle was asking, it was very clear,” confirms Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul.
“It’s a determinist thing – cause and consequence, when you press on the throttle, something is happening to the engine.
“The engine has reacted in exactly the same way that it was supposed to react.”
It’s been a mixed start to the 2018 season for Verstappen, having qualified in fourth in Australia before spinning out of contention whilst pushing to make overtakes. Then the spin in qualifying for Bahrain, finally crashing out of the race.
Team mate Daniel Ricciardo also retired from Bahrain almost immediately after Verstappen pulled up. The Australian lamenting what could’ve been…
“The car was fast enough to win a podium finish.” confesses Ricciardo.
But looking forward to China, Daniel Ricciardo feels Red Bull is “not looking too bad” on long-run pace in China despite single lap time being an area of concern.
“It was OK. I think on the pure performance runs with the Ultrasoft, we weren’t very good,” Ricciardo said.
“So we need to improve a little bit there with the set-up and just understand what we can do better. But with the Soft and the Medium we were more competitive.
“The one-lap performance – if we do qualify Ultrasoft – we need to improve – but we’re not looking too bad.”
MORE NEWS: Lap Time Analysis: Verstappen race pace quickest, Hamilton in the pack
Everyone is obsessed with the fastest time in FP2, but there are a number of factors which will affect who gets pole position and who has the race pace advantage.
The expectation coming into the weekend was that Mercedes dominance in qualifying should return, though today’s numbers make that less certain and once again Kimi appears to be….