Christian Horner: Max Verstappen ‘blew a valve’ in fury at qualifying error

Thomas Maher
Red Bull's Max Verstappen during qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix. Marina Bay, October 2022.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner has discussed Max Verstappen’s need to “blow off steam” after his team made a critical qualifying mistake.

Verstappen will start Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix from eighth on the grid following an uncharacteristic operational error from Red Bull during the critical Q3 part of qualifying.

With the conditions damp but drying, the drivers headed out on slick tyres to pump in lap after lap in the improving conditions.

However, Red Bull instructed Verstappen to abort a late flying lap – one that would have likely secured a front-row start – in order to make the most of the best conditions on the final lap at the chequered flag. However, Verstappen’s car did not have enough fuel on board to finish the lap and return to submit a fuel sample – forcing Red Bull to instruct their driver to abort the lap.

Verstappen, confused after being instructed to abort two flying laps in a row and losing out on a good starting position as a result, was furious as he took to the radio for an expletive-laden tirade back to the garage as he trundled to a halt in the pits.

Verstappen had barely cooled off as he spoke to the media after having had the mistake explained to him by Red Bull, with the reigning World Champion leaving the circuit shortly after completing his media commitments.

After sleeping on a bad day at the office, Horner said Verstappen’s angry reaction was justified.

“He obviously completely blew a valve, but it’s completely understandable,” Horner told Sky F1.

“I think we were pushing too much for the optimum – the track ramped up, we got an extra lap in so we were perfectly positioned to get that lap, to be the last car effectively over the line.

“But the fuel was just too marginal and rather than take the risk of not being able to produce a sample and starting from the pit lane, we took the tough decision to abort the lap.”

Max Verstappen over the bridge in Singapore. Marina Bay October 2022.

Having been monitoring the fuel level throughout the final moments of Verstappen’s flying laps, Horner revealed the call to abort came within sight of the chequered flag.

“[The call came] about two corners before the pit lane,” he said.

“He was right on the edge, and it was a question of saying we couldn’t take the risk.”

According to Horner, Verstappen’s angry reaction did not last long, with the Dutch driver processing the disappointment quite quickly.

“First of all, the relevant people went and had a chat with him,” he said.

“He’s got to get it off his chest. Max, you hear sometimes, he’ll vent and he’ll let off steam very quickly.

“That comes down to a reset and you’ve just got to let him go through his process. He’s turned up today and fully ready for action.”

Horner admitted Red Bull had made the error and said it was something the team have taken on board “as a lesson”.

“You’re always learning in this business and it was our mistake yesterday, hands up for that,” he remarked.

“There are lessons to learn from that. That’s the thing in this business, you’re never far away from a screw-up and that happened to us yesterday. We learn from it, it bit us, but time to bounce back today.”

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