Russell responds to Max’s ‘turtle’ SC complaint

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen behind the Safety Car. Australia April 2022

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc leading the Red Bull of Max Verstappen behind the Safety Car. Australia April 2022

Max Verstappen labelled the Aston Martin Safety Car a “turtle”, with George Russell saying it would not have been an issue had F1 been using the Mercedes Safety Car.

But Charles Leclerc reckons a Ferrari one would be “five seconds quicker”.

Verstappen was not impressed with the speed of the Aston Martin Safety Car during Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, with Bernd Maylander twice out on track when first Carlos Sainz and then Sebastian Vettel crashed.

On both occasions Leclerc lined up P1 with Verstappen behind him in second place, the two struggling to get heat into their tyres.

Verstappen reckons that was because the green Aston Martin Vantage is too slow for the job.

“It was like a turtle,” he told The Race. “Unbelievable. With that car, to drive 140kmh on the back straight where there was not a damaged car anymore, I don’t understand why we have to drive so slowly.

“We have to investigate. For sure, the Mercedes Safety Car is faster because of the extra aero.

“The Aston Martin is really slow. It definitely needs more grip because our tyres were stone cold.

“We went into the last corner and I could see Charles understeering, so I’m like ‘okay, I’ll back off a bit more and get a better line’.

“But it’s pretty terrible the way we are driving behind the Safety Car at the moment.”

Russell joked the problem would be solved if Formula 1 stuck to using the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series.

“We don’t have the issue with the Mercedes AMG Safety Car,” he said with smile.

“On a serious note, the Mercedes AMG is like five seconds quicker than the Aston Martin Safety Car, which is pretty substantial.”

As for Leclerc, who won Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, he says based on current form a Ferrari Safety Car would be better.

“We need to put a Ferrari so it’s then five seconds quicker,” said the championship leader.

He added: “To be honest, it always feels too slow in the car because with these Formula 1 cars we have so much grip and it’s very difficult, especially on the compound we were all on, which was the hards.

“I was struggling massively to put some temperature in them, so I also struggled.


“Then, to be honest, I wanted to complain, but then I checked how much the Safety Car was sliding in the corner and I don’t think there was anything more he could give, so I didn’t want to push too much pressure. And yeah, it’s the way it is.

“But yeah, for sure with the cars we have now it’s very difficult to keep the temperature in the tyres behind the Safety Car.”


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