Monday, March 4, 2024

Max Verstappen: “The first half of the season has been much better than anyone would have ever dreamt of”

After starting from sixth place due to a grid penalty for a gearbox replacement, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen reclaimed the lead of the Belgian Grand Prix quickly and went on to win his eighth consecutive race. 

Verstappen was confident in how RB19 would perform at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, allowing his to secure victory by about twenty-two seconds over team-mate Sergio Pérez. 

“I knew that the car was going to be quick today, and this is one of the best tracks to drive when you have a good car.”

The race brought some memorable radio messages between Verstappen and his race engineer Gianpiero Lambaise, with Lambaise suggesting the two-time champion “use his head” and conserve his tyres in the race’s late stages. Verstappen said that their blunt conversations over the radio was not cause for concern, and rather just how they “operate” together. 

“GP and I were just having a laugh today, we’re honest with each other and that’s how we operate, there’s no need to worry.”

Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Verstappen is focused on maintaining this level of performance with the team, describing the first half of 2023 as “better than anyone would have ever dreamt of.” 

“The first half of the season has been much better than anyone would have ever dreamt of, how we are performing as a Team and winning so many races in a row is incredible. We’re definitely enjoying the moment but we also want to keep this momentum and level for a long time, so hopefully after the summer break we’re strong again in Zandvoort.”

“Our main objective is to continue to stay on the podium” – Sergio Pérez

Perez brought home a solid second place result after overtaking polesitter Charles Leclerc on the opening lap, breezing past on the Kemmel straight. He held onto first place until lap seventeen, when Verstappen captured the lead. 

The Mexican driver was pleased with the result, achieving his best finish since the Miami Grand Prix. He said that once Verstappen pulled a gap in the latter half of the race, it was a matter of managing his tyres and securing the one-two for the team. 

“Today was a good day for the Team. The race started really well and then Max came through strong, especially on the second stint where he pulled away. After he overtook, it was all about bringing it home for the Team and managing the pace until the end, that was the main objective. I ended up slipping on Turn 11 due to the tricky conditions so we wanted to then look after the car, manage the tyres and keep the position.”

Now that he has found his way through a run of difficult weekends, Pérez said that his goal is to make podium appearances consistently, and that he hopes to come back from Summer break reset and “even stronger.” 

“Two podiums in a row now and our main objective is to continue to stay on the podium. We have the summer break to make sure we stay on top of things and have some time to reset. Max did a tremendous job and it overall was a great Team result. I am looking forward to the summer break and going into the second half of the season to come back even stronger.”

Credit: Dan Mullan / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool