‘They are not idiots’ – Max Verstappen identifies two ‘doomed’ drivers on F1 grid

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen on the pit wall in Abu Dhabi.

Max Verstappen on pit wall.

While seeing them as very capable racers, Max Verstappen feels Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen are “doomed” if Haas’ Achilles’ heel is not cured.

After an early challenge from Ferrari, Red Bull has risen to dominant status in this Formula 1 era of ground effect aerodynamics.

However, a team that has gone the other way is Ferrari customer Haas, who after coming firing out of the blocks as a leading midfield outfit, saw themselves slumping to the bottom of the Constructors’ Championship once more in F1 2023.

Max Verstappen: ‘Doomed’ if car does not look after tyres

It has been a long-standing issue for Haas that their challengers do not manage the Pirelli rubber as efficiently as rival machinery, leading them to fall backwards in race trim.

And without a fix for this issue, Verstappen says Hulkenberg and Magnussen are “doomed” despite the best of their abilities.

“You definitely need a car that takes good care of the tyres,” Verstappen told Auto Motor und Sport. “Otherwise you’re doomed.

“You can see it at Haas. I don’t think Nico and Kevin are idiots. If the car overloads the tyres, there’s not much you can do.

“First of all, you need the foundation – and that’s the car. As a driver, you can find one or two tenths of a second per lap by paying more attention to the tyres.”

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For Red Bull meanwhile, tyre management was a major strength which helped the Red Bull RB19 to 21 grand prix wins from 22 outings in F1 2023, 19 of those going Verstappen’s way.

However, the three-time World Champion said that tyre preservation was one factor in an all-round strong Red Bull RB19.

“We are consistently good on the road,” said Verstappen. “Other cars may have their performance peaks. For example, they are good on city circuits, but are weaker on fast corners. Or vice versa.

“On average, our car is simply very balanced and very good. I wouldn’t say that we are significantly better than others in high-speed sections. McLaren is also very good there. We’re not much better in medium-speed corners. But our car is an all-rounder. That’s what counts.

“And it looks like we’ll be pretty good in the race and manage our tyres.”

F1 2024 is set to be contested across a record-breaking 24-round calendar, as Verstappen goes in search of a fourth World Championship in as many years.

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