Gianpiero Lambiase under spotlight as ‘Mad Max’ returns at US Grand Prix

Thomas Maher
Gianpiero Lambiase, Max Verstappen's race engineer, chats with his driver at Zandvoort.

Gianpiero Lambiase, Max Verstappen's race engineer, chats with his driver.

Max Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase found himself on the receiving end of his driver’s annoyance during the US GP.

Verstappen won the United States Grand Prix by 10.7 seconds over McLaren’s Lando Norris, following the disqualification of Lewis Hamilton from second place, but had a tougher race than usual as the Dutch driver struggled with the brakes on his RB19.

Having dominated Saturday’s Sprint race, the Grand Prix showed Verstappen was far less comfortable with his car as he vociferously complained about the braking feel under his feet.

Max Verstappen and Gianpiero Lambiase’s spicy radio exchange

With Verstappen feeling the pressure of Hamilton’s pursuit, as well as struggling with the brakes, the three-time World Champion found himself getting tetchy with Gianpiero Lambiase as the race engineer tried to feed information to his driver – albeit at inopportune moments.

“Aww mate, the brakes are so s**t compared to yesterday!” Verstappen shouted on team radio. “What a piece of s**t!”

Lambiase replied: “Understood” and, later, said, “Just for info at this stage, Max, but time loss to Checo 39.8, braking 11, 12, 20.”

Verstappen replied, “Yeah, I know mate, the brakes are just s**t!”, to which Lambiase replied: “As I said, it was just information.”

With Hamilton closing down the gap in the closing stages, and the pressure mounting on Verstappen, Lambiase tried to keep his driver informed by saying: “Same pace as Hamilton.”

But Verstappen was having none of it, saying: “Please, no talking under the braking!” and, when the gap shrunk to 3.6 as Lambiase pointed out, Verstappen emphasised with annoyance: “No talking in the braking, man!”

Verstappen held on to cross the line by 2.2 seconds over Hamilton and, during the celebratory messages, Lambiase quickly signed off with just a short message: “Well done, enjoy the celebrations, see you Friday.” recommends

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Max Verstappen ‘right to bite back’ at Gianpiero Lambiase

Verstappen and Lambiase are well known for their ‘old married couple’ routine as a driver and race engineer, with Lambiase well able to retort with sarcasm and wit against his driver when Verstappen’s temper rises.

But, on this occasion, Verstappen’s annoyed pleas for silence – and the tone with which he said them – were justified, according to some racing drivers.

“You just hate it as a driver being talked to in the braking zone,” 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button told Sky F1.

“So you’ve got to think that the braking zone in an F1 car is so short. So, once you’re in the braking zone, you’re at the braking zone. So it’s a shock when somebody talks to you on the radio.”

With former NASCAR and IndyCar racer Danica Patrick saying, “It’s not hard for them to look at where the straights are, and speak on them,”, Button replied, “They’re long enough, aren’t they?”

Patrick concluded: “He really should be doing it on the straights. I don’t blame Max at all.”

Three-time W Series Champion and current IndyNXT racer Jamie Chadwick opened up on how hearing your race engineer speaking at a moment they aren’t expected can distract a driver.

“I find, that when someone speaks to you, you always assume there’s a problem,” she said.

“So it really throws you off basically, because you’re usually used to being spoken to in the same places.

“Max is hard on GP, I think we’ve seen that between them the whole year but I think, in this instance, Max was probably right to bite back.”

With Verstappen dismissing the conversation as being a ‘polite’ request as he spoke to the media in the press conference after winning the United States GP, team boss Christian Horner laughed at how his squabbling employees had communicated.

“Their marital bliss continues,” he told media after the race, “and Max is complaining about his brakes and GP is asking about his front wing offset, you know?”

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