Max Verstappen’s heated radio exchange and huge changes coming at Alpine – F1 news round-up

Henry Valantine
Otmar Szafnauer and Max Verstappen. F1 news round-up July 2023.

Otmar Szafnauer and Max Verstappen. F1 news round-up July 2023.

Friday was full of F1 news to come from Spa, both on and off track as the sport gears up for another sprint weekend.

But while free practice and qualifying were going on, there was more than enough happening away from the circuit to keep us busy at Spa-Francorchamps.

It wouldn’t be the summer in Formula 1 without some major changes happening at the drop of a hat within teams, and 2023 is no different. It’s all in today’s F1 news round-up…

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher and Sam Cooper

Max Verstappen on angry radio call after Q2 near-miss

Max Verstappen had something of a tiff with race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase after he just about scraped through to Q3 in Belgium on Friday, with a heated radio exchange between the two after the runaway World Championship leader almost suffered an early exit.

Lambiase: “So, you are through, Max.”

Verstappen: “Yeah I don’t give a f**k… it’s just s**t execution.”

Lambiase: “OK, and then when the track was two seconds quicker for your final lap and you didn’t have any energy left, how would that have gone down? You tell me what you want to do in Q3, and we’ll do it. Let me know. Sets, fuel, run plan…”

Verstappen apologised to ‘GP’ after storming to P1 by quite some distance, and explained to media including PlanetF1.com just what happened during that session.

“I had to abort that lap, then I did another slow lap,” he said. “It just felt like I probably lost a little bit too much temperature in the tyres, and then, because of that mistake, I just took a lot of margin there.

“It was way too much. With the track ramping up that quickly, it was very, very close.”

Read more: Max Verstappen explains angry radio message after elimination close call

Otmar Szafnauer out at Alpine as huge management changes made

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer will leave the team after the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, with ‘Team Enstone’ stalwart Alan Permane departing after 34 years and Pat Fry also set to head to Williams later in the year to become their new technical director.

New Alpine vice president of motorsports Bruno Famin will take Szafnauer’s place on an interim basis while they find a new team boss, with a huge change going on behind the scenes at Renault.

This will have wide-ranging implications for Alpine on track, and there is plenty to look out for in the weeks ahead at the team, though the staff members will remain in the team for one more weekend at Spa.

Read more: Otmar Szafnauer out – revolution at Alpine as huge management changes underway

But despite the sudden news, Szafnauer wasn’t sacked, say Alpine

Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com on Friday, Famin insisted that the parting of ways of Famin and Permane was not a sacking, but a mutual decision that they will part ways.

Szafnauer will have to serve a year of gardening leave before he can be hired by another team in the F1 paddock, but the team’s sudden change of direction comes as they move into ‘phase two’ of their 100-race plan to start fighting for titles.

“We decided together with Alan and Otmar to split our ways. It’s a mutual agreement first,” Famin told media including PlanetF1.com when asked why Alpine had chosen to sack their staff members.

“We’ve been discussing for a while about what we needed to do for the timeline, for the evolution we required in our F1 team. At one stage, you realise that we are not on the same paths on this then we decide to split ways.”

Read more: Alpine boss rejects Otmar Szafnauer sack claim and provides replacement update

Daniel Ricciardo paid the price after Q1 exit for track limits

Daniel Ricciardo will start the Belgian Grand Prix from the back row of the grid on Sunday, but exited qualifying in Q1 after having his fastest lap, which was good enough for P10 in the session, removed for breaching track limits at Raidillon.

With the track still best on intermediate tyres at that point, the drivers were very much finding the limit as Q1 went on under the sun in Belgium.

While he was frustrated with the outcome, the Australian knew exactly where he went wrong.

“I basically tried to take Eau Rouge full,” he told media including PlanetF1.com. “I entered full and I felt the car start to move and so I had a little lift and it just then put me a bit off-line.

“Then I was kind of on the wetter part of the track and I couldn’t really do much more. I kind of just had to let the car go and I tried to save it but frustrating obviously.”

Read more: Daniel Ricciardo tried to full-send Eau Rouge and paid the price

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Charles Leclerc takes pole, but isn’t sure he’ll stay there come Sunday

Charles Leclerc will inherit pole position from Verstappen when his five-place grid penalty takes effect on Sunday, but given just how much pace there is under the Red Bull RB19, Leclerc isn’t sure he’ll be able to keep hold of the lead this weekend.

“Not confident, especially with the two Red Bull guys right behind. I think they’ve got a much better race car than we have,” Leclerc stated to media including PlanetF1.com after qualifying.

“I mean, it’s great to be starting first and I think it gives us a good chance to have a great result. But to say that we’ll target the win, I think it’s probably a bit too optimistic.”

Read more: Charles Leclerc ‘not confident’ of Belgium success despite taking pole position