Max Verstappen has no answer for his race-ending crash at the Emilia Romagna GP, saying he could see no damage on his Red Bull.
The Dutchman crashed out of the race on Lap 51 with a tyre blowout, and that coupled with Alex Albon’s P15 means that Red Bull are now out of the picture for the Constructors’ Championship with Mercedes claiming the title for a seventh season in a row.
“The start was good, I got Lewis, then I was trying to stay with Valtteri,” Verstappen told Sky F1.
“We both pitted of course, I tried to do the undercut, then he I think had damage on the floor so he was losing a lot of lap time and I couldn’t get close, at this track it’s so hard to pass.
“Then of course Lewis jumped us and once I got past Valtteri yeah I think the pace was good, the car was feeling quite good, and then suddenly on the straight I lost the car because there was a tyre blow out.
“I don’t exactly know what happened but when I quickly looked at the car there was nothing broken on the car, so it’s a big shame.”
Verstappen was at least in the fight with Mercedes unlike at the Portuguese Grand Prix and looked a comfortable P2 finisher before his incident.
“Yeah it was a lot more fun as well, I was pushing and really trying to stay with them, it was a lot of fun out there,” he said.
“Of course [a shame] not to be on that podium, and not only not be on that podium but also not be second, big shame.”
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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said debris must have been the cause of Verstappen’ crash, claiming the Dutchman had suffered an “instantaneous puncture”.
“We think that he’s hit some kind of debris because he was on the radio to his race engineer at the time and boom, the tyre suddenly went,” he explained.
“So it suggests just a total instantaneous puncture and that was the result of it so very frustrating, particularly after he’d managed to pass Valtteri and it felt like today we had pretty decent pace, so annoying not to get that P2.”
Verstappen’s team-mate Albon again spent his race battling with the midfield runners, and Horner said that left Red Bull in a “strategy sandwich”.
“You’re in a strategy sandwich at that point so if you go for the undercut they can go longer with the tail car,” he said.
“And you can’t cover both options so you’ve got to pick the one that you want to try and beat, and we actually picked to try and beat Lewis because we felt that Valtteri on new tyres would also have the pace after a stop but his pace wasn’t great and he was making a lot of mistakes.
“That enabled Lewis to close in to within a pit-stop window, then they didn’t take it, then they got to traffic, and then the Virtual Safety Car came out and he had a free stop.”
Bottas was driving the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix with damage after hitting a piece of debris early in the race, and Horner said Red Bull were very much aware of that.
“Yeah, we obviously listen to the team radios of the other teams, and occasionally you guys,” he confirmed.
“We were aware of the damage that Valtteri was managing and that obviously gave Lewis a pace advantage as well.
“And it made it even more important for Max to put him under pressure, force a mistake, which he got.
“I was just talking to him and he said Valtteri basically gave a little brake test in that corner where he had made the mistake and nearly went up the back of him, but he was patient enough to come on the straight and then use the DRS and pass him into Turn 2.”