Max Verstappen responds to ‘fight’ concerns with Gianpiero Lambiase

Michelle Foster
Gianpiero Lambiase, Max Verstappen's race engineer, chats with his driver at Zandvoort.

Gianpiero Lambiase, Max Verstappen's race engineer, chats with his driver.

Max Verstappen insists while he and Gianpiero Lambiase can engage in “quite fiery conversations”, it’s never a fight, it’s just both are passionate about winning the race.

Throughout this year’s championship, FOM have broadcast many a message between Verstappen and his race engineer, GP. Many of those sounded tense, at times hostile, and included a smattering of swear words.

The most recent of these incidents was at the United States Grand Prix where Verstappen lambasted GP for giving him information as he was braking, the driver already dealing with a brake issue.

Max Verstappen: Sometimes we have quite fiery conversations

But while Red Bull team boss Christian Horner called it nothing more than “old married couple” antics, Damon Hill said he gave his race engineer a “right old roasting” and Peter Windsor felt a “bit sorry” for GP.

It led to speculation of a fall-out between the driver and his long-time engineer, but speaking on the latest Red Bull ‘Talking Bull’ podcast, Verstappen revealed it was never a fight, just two people wanting to get the best result out on track.

“I mean, of course, respect is very important,” said the Dutchman. “But people sometimes they don’t really understand what kind of relationship you have.

“So for example, if we are on the radio and where we sound a bit upset or angry, they think we are in a fight. But that’s not the case.

“It’s just we want the best out there. And then of course, sometimes I raise my voice on the radio because yeah, full of adrenaline while driving. And of course, GP also he wants the best and that’s why sometimes we have quite fiery conversations.

“But for me, that is the way I like to approach our weekend, our racing, because if I would be upset or whatever or not happy with a certain situation, he’s like, ‘copy that or like thank you very much for your message’. I’d be, ‘What is going on?’

“You know, we are both in this together and we want to have the best possible result. But of course, respect is very important.”

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Cheeky comments but never fake arguments

But along with the respect come a few cheeky comments, especially from Verstappen’s side.

Asked if he and GP ever had fake arguments, GP denied this while Verstappen recalled their conversation at this year’s Belgian Prix.

That Sunday, leading by a comfortable margin, Verstappen told his race engineer he wanted to push harder to create a gap that would allow him to make another pit stop and go for the fastest lap point and give his Red Bull crew “some extra pit stop training”.

GP and team boss Christian Horner shut him down.

Asked in the podcast about fake arguments, it was clear to see the easy relationship between the triple World Champion and his right-hand man.

Max: No, not a fake argument, but some… cheeky comments. And it’s definitely not going to be the last one. No fake arguments.

GP: Sometimes I get the feeling that you are just bored basically sometimes.

Max: Sometimes I just want to like [say] hello.

GP: Even if we’re 30 seconds up the road, I’ll still be in the zone as it were, still trying to maximise everything and taking everything seriously, whereas I think at that point he’s perhaps lost a bit of interest and he’s like, ‘Come on GP, just chill out of it.’

Max: It was maybe Spa or whatever, sometimes you check in like, ‘How’s it going?’ ‘All good?’ Like, ‘All good’. And then you talk about the tyres. And then I said, ‘We can also keep on pushing, you know, to try and open up a stop’. ‘No, we don’t need that today, it’s necessary!’

GP: Because I’ve got Christian in my ear saying, ‘No, no, we don’t need that’.

Max: There are a lot of reasons to it but sometimes it’s just a bit of banter. Probably then a bit of a fake argument.

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