Max Verstappen reveals extent of recent illness: ‘I felt like I was missing a lung’

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen in the media pen. Bahrain February 2023.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen in the media pen after pre-season testing. Bahrain February 2023.

Max Verstappen has revealed he needed two laps to “breathe normally” after one hot lap at the Jeddah circuit such were the lingering effects of his illness.

Verstappen missed media day for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Red Bull saying he had come down with “stomach illness over the past few days” and had delayed his flight to give him another day to recover.

But it now seems it was more than just a stomach bug with the Dutchman revealing he was so ill at one point he felt as if he was “missing a lung”.

“I refused to believe it myself for a long time,” he told the media at the Albert Park circuit.

“At home I was really ill, I could barely just walk around. I felt like I was missing a lung.”

Feeling better the closer it got to the race weekend, he hoped to bounce back quickly only to find out in Friday’s practice that was not the case.

“I got to the weekend really believing that it was gone because when you get sick, two or three days after you’re normally alright, you just can do your work outs,” he continued.

“But then when I jumped in the car in FP1, even just one performance lap, I felt like I had to recover for two laps to be able to breathe normally.” recommends

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He went onto finish the race weekend in second place, recovering from a P15 grid position to cross the line just five seconds behind his team-mate Sergio Perez and take the fastest lap point on the final lap.

“It definitely did affect me throughout the weekend which I didn’t like because it was one of the first races,” he said. “I just felt that I was physically limited and that’s very frustrating.

“Since then I have been trying to work on it, trying to improve it and I do think it has improved a lot.”

The reigning World Champion, leading the standings by a single point ahead of Perez, is looking forward to the three-week break between Australia and Baku.

“For me now this three weeks is just for getting back to full fitness and getting a full [training] programme in,” he said. “So in a way it’s probably nice now. Normally if you feel well, I’d just prefer to keep racing.”