Red Bull team leadership on Monday continued to heap praise on driver Max Verstappen’s cool under pressure as he won the Dutch Grand Prix while Ferrari’s boss lamented his team’s meltdown.
Red Bull team advisor Helmut Marko, a 79-year-old motor racing veteran, said it was extraordinary how Verstappen adapted to dramatic changes in circumstance and strategy, as he did when Mercedes were faster than Red Bull late in the race.
“We saw a fantastic Max…the pressure didn’t affect him at all. He stayed so focussed on the race,” Marko told specialist site RacingNews365.
“It’s unbelievable what this guy – or this boy! – is doing. He’s almost 25, so he’s a young man. Yet, in the car, he is on his own planet. No pressure affects him at all.”
Verstappen had to ride his luck at Zandvoort and take advantage of a late safety car re-start to pass seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes and win.
After the race on Sunday, team chief Christian Horner praised Vertsappen’s approach.
“Max was in the zone from the moment he arrived to the moment he saw the chequered flag,” said Horner.
Verstappen’s fourth consecutive win gave him a 109-point lead in the drivers’ championship ahead of Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. The victory put the Dutch driver within reach of a second straight world title.
George Russell finished second for Mercedes, proving they are emerging as a threat for the final seven races this year, with Leclerc third and Hamilton fourth.
Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari collected a five-second penalty for a pit-lane unsafe release that dropped from fifth on the road to eighth in the result.
The Spaniard’s problems summed up Ferrari’s weekend and much of their season as they continued to deliver botched tactics and pit-stop errors that undermined the potential of their car and drivers.
Team boss Mattia Binotto said a decision to pit Sainz had been made too late leading to his 12-seconds delay at his first stop.
“This is one of the easiest things to solve,” he said. “However, these kinds of things should not happen, but I am convinced that we can be stronger in the future.”
“I’m more concerned about the pace this weekend than about those mistakes.”
“The fact is that we weren’t fast enough and if you look at the speed in qualifying, we would have hoped for a better result. But the speed and performance were not good.
“It’s been like this for three races and there is clearly something wrong that we must fix.”
He did not say ‘before Monza’, but given the expectation surrounding the team ahead of next Sunday’s contest in Italy, Binotto will be urging Ferrari to find a solution rapidly to prevent them being left behind by Red Bull at their home event.
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