Jos Verstappen takes dig at Mercedes over Abu Dhabi strategy lesson

Jon Wilde
Jos Verstappen talking to Susie Wolff and Toto Wolff. Red Bull Ring July 2022.

Jos Verstappen talking to Susie Wolff and Toto Wolff at the Austrian Grand Prix. Red Bull Ring July 2022.

Jos Verstappen has taunted Mercedes over their strategy after his son Max’s victory in the Dutch Grand Prix for the second year running.

The way in which the reigning World Champion repeated last season’s Zandvoort victory had shades of Abu Dhabi 2021 about it.

That was, of course, the controversial grand prix in which Verstappen clinched the Drivers’ title, with the help of a late Safety Car period.

A similar, but less contentious, scenario unfolded in the Netherlands – although this time, there could be no disputing the decisions made by the race director.

But again, just like at Yas Marina last December, it was Red Bull that got the better of things, both on the pit wall and on track.

The similarities between the two occasions were that Lewis Hamilton was leading and not called into the pits for a tyre change, in order to keep track position, whereas Verstappen did stop for new rubber.

And both times, the Dutchman made his fresher tyres count by getting past Hamilton at the earliest opportunity to go on and take the race victory.

Jos Verstappen was naturally thrilled to see his 24-year-old son take his 10th victory of the season and also another big step towards retaining his Drivers’ crown – but could not resist a dig at Mercedes too.

“It was super-tense but Red Bull were on top again,” Verstappen senior told De Telegraaf.

“Max tried all the tyres and indicated which one would work best. Mercedes did well too, they definitely had a chance to win. But fortunately it worked out well for us.

“And you would think Mercedes had learned from last year’s last race in Abu Dhabi, but apparently not.”

Now with a 109-point lead over Charles Leclerc in the Drivers’ standings, Verstappen could theoretically even wrap up the title on the weekend of his 25th birthday at the Japanese Grand Prix in just three races’ time if everything goes his way.

“Max has now won 10 out of 15 races,” pointed out his father. “It is amazing what he shows.

“Yes, it’s clear he has a bit of an upper hand. But you should never count yourself rich if you are not there yet.”

Verstappen junior raced with a special helmet at the Dutch Grand Prix in tribute to his father, which the World Champion held up in front of the TV cameras after securing pole position in qualifying.

“Only the picture went off, so I didn’t see it,” said Jos. “But I did see it afterwards and was sent photos.

“I know Max is very grateful for what happened in the past and how hard we fought for it.”