Martin Brundle ‘quietly pleased’ driveshaft issue put Max Verstappen P15 on grid

Mark Scott
Max Verstappen looking glum, Saudi Arabia. March 2023

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen looking glum, Saudi Arabia. March 2023

Martin Brundle has revealed he was “quietly pleased” to see Max Verstappen start the Saudi Arabian GP from a lowly P15 in order to spice up the show.

A driveshaft issue with the Dutchman’s RB19 ensured he could play no part in the battle for pole position in Jeddah and would be left with some work to do to reach the podium.

He made light work of that objective, a timely Safety Car only accelerating the inevitable outcome in what is already looking like an extremely one-sided F1 season.

With Verstappen and Red Bull the huge favourites to defend their titles once again, it already has the likes of Brundle celebrating some very small victories for the good of the show.

“In the end, it was another show of total domination by Red Bull in Jeddah,” Brundle said in his post-Saudi Arabian GP column for Sky Sports.

“I have to be honest and say that when Max Verstappen had a driveshaft problem in qualifying meaning that he would start 15th on the grid, I was quietly pleased, relieved, and energised.

“Nothing against Max and his incredible talent, but at least we would have something to look forward to on race day.

“With Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari also somewhat shockingly taking a grid penalty in just the second round of a 23-race season – for exceeding electronic control unit allowances – and starting down in 12th, there was guaranteed to be some movement.”

Brundle then went on to list another element that he feels is having a negative impact on the show.

“As usual in F1, when we have incidents and accidents, work is soon carried out to move walls, remove bumps, lower kerbs, and provide run off,” he continued.

“One of the worst examples of that is the ‘champions’ wall’ in Montreal, and the outside wall in the final Turn 27 in Jeddah.

“The result of all this is that you then have significantly fewer incidents to talk about.

“I’m not being gung-ho and wishing for more crashes, but I like to see challenges and jeopardy which rewards the skilful and punishes the less accurate drivers.

“In the perfect world, many would like a billiard table smooth surface, with kerbs a coat of paint high, along with very few downside risks. That’s no good for the show.

“Regardless, this track definitely opens the eyes of the drivers with its high speed and blind sections.”’s recommended reading

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Brundle also thinks that, such is Red Bull’s dominance in these very early stages of the F1 2023 campaign, it will spark something of a behind-the-scenes scramble as teams look to hire the sharpest minds in the business to try and narrow this substantial gap to the runaway leaders.

He added: “Red Bull’s dominant speed has put many teams and their key personnel under big pressure, not least Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren.

“I’ve rarely witnessed such a broad challenge across so many teams and they’ll be looking to hire experienced talent from other teams, who are themselves still feverishly protecting the people they already have under contract and collecting up other talents.

“Add in Audi (currently Sauber Alfa Romeo) on a major recruitment crusade ready for 2026 and, despite the cost cap, it’s a seller’s market for people who know how a Formula One team and car really works.”

Martin Brundle’s comment reflects a sign of the times

It was a little surprising to read that Martin Brundle, in his role as a pundit/commentator for Sky F1, took some joy out of Max Verstappen starting so low down on the grid – but it really does encapsulate the sorry state the sport is in just two races into a record-breaking 23-race calendar.

When Verstappen starting from the back is the main source of entertainment at this very early stage of the year, that does not reflect well on the F1 product.

And, on the occasions that does happen throughout the year (it won’t be many), any joy that Brundle and others will have will be very short-lived.

Nobody is going to get anywhere near Red Bull this season and that is something we are all going to have to accept.

Roll on F1 2024, where hopefully Ferrari and Mercedes can get their respective homes in order and Aston Martin can continue to disrupt the established top three.

Until then, it will be a case of continuing to find joy in the smallest things.