Max Verstappen is going to try to retaliate for the Monza soap opera in Tuscany, Italy. After a difficult race in the Temple of Speed the Red Bull Racing driver dropped out with engine problems. “It was a weekend to forget, but I am confident that the next race will be a good one
The Formula 1 circus has set up its tents in Mugello, a hilly circuit where fast motorbikes are usually the order of the day. Tuscany was not originally on the Formula 1 calendar, but the corona pandemic changed everything. It is the second Italian grand prix in a row and next weekend circuit owner Ferrari celebrates his thousandth grand prix entry.
With foreknowledge to Mugello
Verstappen has never driven a race at Mugello, but he still knows the track like the back of his hand. “I drove a GT car here a few weeks ago. That was important to me. Other drivers have already raced here, but I had never been there before. Driving all day is the best way to learn to read the track, although of course you drive a lot slower. It can also be done in the simulator, but this is better”
The 22-year old Dutchman is enthusiastic about the undulating track. “A beautiful circuit with a difference in height. Super fast: the fourth gear is the lowest you use. Not only the drivers, but also the tyres are going to have a hard time. Especially when it gets hot.”
According to Verstappen, the disadvantage of the circuit is that overtaking becomes difficult. “In MotoGP you can overtake at every corner, but with a Formula 1 car thats a different story. We drive different lines. Thats why its good that I already have a first impression. And it is important that qualifying goes well
Verstappen doesnt have a real impression of the balance of power yet. “How are we going to do here? That mainly depends on how fast we can get through the fast corners. I think we can fight it properly, but Mercedes is too fast. Here too.”
Verstappen likes the fact that the circuit is new territory for almost all F1 teams. “Everyone starts from zero. Thats why the free practice sessions are becoming even more important. Then there is work to be done to adjust the car as optimally as possible. There is little preparation time and we know little. It is a good test for the team. Its a challenge, but I like that”
The Italian grand prix in Monza was a bitter pill for Verstappen. “We knew it was going to be tough. Its a speed circuit that doesnt suit us. Ive never driven a really nice race there before. Its tricky, but if the car isnt top-notch, it gets even trickier. Actually, almost everything went wrong
“We didnt have the speed and grip on Friday. On Saturday I qualified fifth. I could still live with that, but the start of the race also went badly. I couldnt attack
“In the first round it was pushing, I lost ground and didnt take any risks. After that I was stuck in a little train. The Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas drove in front of me. The fastest car on the field, so no start. All I could do was follow
After the race was stopped because of a crash of Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, things went from bad to worse. “After the restart I had an overheated engine and had to give up
After the race Verstappen was remarkably fierce on his race stable and motorbike supplier Honda. “The car is not good, the engine is short and the balance is not okay. Its not good enough and that has been the case all season”, he was critical.
The failure at Monza cost Verstappen second place in the WC standings, but he remains sober and tries to give a positive turn to a lousy race weekend. “The team is on top of things to improve. I have made my point and I dont need to insist on that. Its not going to get any worse than Monza.”