Max Verstappen conspiracy theory debunked after failing to park in P2 spot

Michelle Foster
Red Bull's Sergio Perez at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Jeddah, March 2023.

Red Bull's Sergio Perez at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Jeddah, March 2023.

Don’t go reading anything into Max Verstappen’s mishap at the end of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix where he pulled into the pit lane instead of parking his P2 car on the grid.

That’s according to Sky Sports’ commentator and pundit David Croft who insists it was a genuine mistake.

Finishing runner-up to Sergio Perez at round two of the championship, instead of heading to the grid to park his RB19, Verstappen pulled into the pit lane leaving his team-mate perplexed.

Told to “stay on track” by his race engineer Hugh Bird, Perez replied: “Max is going through the pit lane.”

Bird responded: “He should be staying on track. Halfway down the grid, you’ll see a number one board.”

Perez headed to that board with Fernando Alonso taking his spot by P3 while Verstappen made his way to the grid on foot.

It had some fans wondering what was going on and whether or not Verstappen deserved a penalty for failing to follow procedure.

Croft has rubbished that.

Speaking on the Sky Sports F1 podcast, he told one listener to “stop looking for conspiracy theories with ‘anyone else would get a penalty'” comment.

“I would imagine Max just brought it in to where he normally brings it in and had forgotten and wasn’t told that he was meant to park it on the grid,” he added.

But his fellow pundits expressed their disbelief with a “really?” from Natalie Pinkham while Matt Baker asked: “Do you think? I mean Max is quite used to winning Formula 1 races, he knows where to park it.”

Croft replied: “Where did Max park his car in Bahrain? On the ramp under the podium in parc ferme.

“Where do cars normally pull into at the end of a race? Parc ferme. They don’t normally go on the grid. So it’s not a one-off but it doesn’t happen all the time.” recommends

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Verstappen made it clear after the grand prix that he wasn’t happy with Red Bull’s performance over the weekend after a driveshaft failure meant he wasn’t able to progress out of Q2.

He lined up 15th on the grid before racing his way to second, grabbing the fastest lap point as some consolation, but feels he should “have won” the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

“We need to do better as a team, we can’t have problems like these,” he told Dutch broadcaster Viaplay.

“Otherwise this would have been a very different race for me. At the end we limited the damage a little bit, but I should have won here.”

Expecting an intra-team battle with Perez for the title, he called on Red Bull to ensure both cars were reliable.

“Everyone is happy but personally, I’m not happy because I’m not here to be second,” Verstappen concluded.

“When you’re fighting for a championship and especially when it looks like it’s just between two cars, we have to make sure that also the two cars are reliable.”