Max Verstappen says there is ‘a lot to improve’ after troubled start to Dutch GP

Sam Cooper
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, watches on during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend. Budapest, July 2022.

Max Verstappen’s home race weekend did not start in ideal fashion as a gearbox issue saw him retire from FP1 before finishing P8 in FP2.

During his opening stint around the Zandvoort circuit, Verstappen caused the red flags to be waved when he pulled over to the side of the track complaining of a gearbox issue.

Red Bull later revealed Verstappen, who had gone fastest in the session before his failure, was suffering from a transmission-related issue but the team were able to get him back running in time for FP2.

The gearbox was changed, which did not incur a penalty as he remains within his allocation, but Verstappen was forced to make up for lost time in FP2 and could only finish eighth fastest, 0.697 seconds behind leader Charles Leclerc.

Afterwards, the Dutchman rued the lost time of the first session and said there was only so much damage limitation they could do in an hour.

“I think on the hard tyres you couldn’t really tell the balance because we had such little grip on the tyres,” he told Formula1.com. “Then you are a session behind, so we went into FP2 and the balance wasn’t great but in an hour session you can’t really change the car a lot.

“So we just tried to deal with what we had and that wasn’t great today, but we’ll have the night to look into things and for sure we can do better than this.”

Verstappen said he was not shocked when he saw the stark time difference between he and the leaders even after being so dominant last time out in Belgium.

“To be honest, while driving it I was not really surprised when I saw the time difference. So there are a lot of things we can improve.

“We have the whole night to look at things and then of course FP3 as well. I will try to of course be more competitive.”

That is also a task facing Sergio Perez, who ran the entirety of both sessions but could only manage seventh in FP1 and P12 in the day’s second practice. The Mexican blamed traffic on his inability to get a good run on the soft tyres during FP1.

“[I] got a lot of traffic,” Perez said. “My first lap, I couldn’t get a proper read on the soft tyres, unfortunately, was going to be a massive shunt there [if I kept going].

“Then the long run, degradation seems to be pretty high so it will be interesting to see what we are able to do with the strategy, but we certainly need to improve for qualifying.”