Max Verstappen explains why he refused to slow down even after Turn 16 hit

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, in thought. Monaco, May 2023.

Max Verstappen in thought inside the Red Bull garage. Monaco, May 2023.

Max Verstappen has revealed even his engineer Gianpiero Lambiase wanted to know why he wasn’t slowing down as he came close to his losing control of his RB19 a few times in the rain in Monaco.

In fact he did clip the barrier at least one, a hard hit at Turn 16 but fortunately for the driver it was one that didn’t damage his car.

Despite running on worn medium Pirelli tyres, Verstappen was leading the Monaco Grand Prix by a comfortable margin ahead of Fernando Alonso when light rain began to fall on lap 51. As that intensified, the Red Bull driver finally came in for his first pit stop of the day to swap onto a set of intermediates.

But given the slippery conditions around the tight twisty street circuit, several drivers had moments with the barriers including Verstappen who had a hard hit at Portier.

It had even ‘GP’ asking his driver why he wasn’t slowing down.

“My engineer asked me the same thing but it’s more when you’re on a rhythm,” he said when the question was put to him in the post-race press conference, “it’s better to just stay in that.

“I think just one time out of 16 I clipped the barrier. But I thought I had a bit more margin and then I just I touched those… okay, I didn’t have the margin.

“But yeah, it was fine.

“It’s better to be in a rhythm and feel good than slowing down and then be a bit out of your zone, and then also your tyres get colder.

“It’s not what you like, they were already quite cold, so which is better, I think to stay in that because I was not overdriving it or whatever, it was just in my own zone.” recommends

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Verstappen went onto win the race by 28 seconds ahead of Alonso to record his fourth victory of this season.

There was a moment though when Alonso was able to close the gap on Verstappen, the Spaniard taking five seconds off his lead in the first five laps after they’d swapped to the inters.

Verstappen says that’s just because he was being a little cautious as he established his rhythm.

“It was just that I had a big lead and I didn’t want to risk trying to be the same pace or faster and then end up in the wall,” he explained.

“You have to be a little bit more careful. It’s just not take too much risk but at the same time, of course not drive too slowly.

“I think I had Lando [Norris] in my gearbox as well so at one point, I was like, well, I do need to speed up a bit.

“It’s not a comfortable situation to be in, when it’s like that to run here in the wet but luckily after five laps to change a few things on the steering wheel as well to just give me a bit of a better balance and that definitely helped as well.”

Verstappen’s victory extends his advantage over his team-mate Sergio Perez to 39 points in the battle for the World title.