Max Verstappen masking his true pace with major advantage identified in China

Henry Valantine
Max Verstappen on top of his car.

Max Verstappen has won 21 of the last 23 races in Formula 1, following victory in China.

Mercedes reserve driver Frederik Vesti and F1 tech expert Albert Fabrega have highlighted areas in which Max Verstappen is able to conserve his true pace, even while leading from the front.

Vesti pointed to the reigning World Champion not needing to push his tyres as hard, while Fabrega explained that he wonders if the Red Bull driver is “keeping some tenths in his pocket” at times.

Is Max Verstappen ‘keeping some tenths in his pocket’ at times?

Having recovered from fourth on the grid to open up a significant gap and earn a victory in the Sprint on Saturday, Verstappen led throughout the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday to take a remarkable 21st victory in just 23 races.

Talking about how he can extract marginal gains over his rivals in such conditions, Vesti, who is sharing reserve duties with Mick Schumacher at Mercedes this season, believes Verstappen is able to manage his tyres in such a way that he can still drive faster than his rivals without taking too much life out of them.

“Today was a very strong race, but also yesterday in the sprint race, I think really showed his pace. I think he pulled 12 seconds in 10 laps or something like that, which was incredible,” Vesti explained on the F1 Nation podcast.

“One of the things that is really helping him in a long race like this is that when you have that speed advantage, you can just take care of the tyres.

“In high speed [corners], he can just use the tyres 1% less, but over a long stint that can really make a big difference. recommends

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“So yes, he is fast, the car is fast, but it’s almost looking even better because he’s able to take so well care of the tyres.”

Fabrega agreed that Verstappen can manage tyre life like no other driver on the grid at the moment. But in a rather stark assessment of the chances of a competitive title race this year – Verstappen is 5/18 to win it on – Fabrega wonders if the Dutchman is even still keeping pace in hand.

When asked if it was his most dominant performance of the year, Fabrega responded: “Yeah, 100% the most dominant, and there’s always a question mark at the end of the race, have we seen the quickest one? Where Max is keeping some tenths in his pocket if he needs to still deploy that extra speed?

“I think that he is managing the tyres in a way that no one can do now in Formula 1, and as you know, as always, it’s not only the driver, it’s the car, it’s the team, how they plan the race and the whole weekend.

“But I think it’s been for me the most dominant race of the year, yes.”

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