Verstappen not ‘smart enough’ after safety car restart

Sam Cooper
Max Verstappen looking serious. Bahrain March 2022

Red Bull driver and defending World Champion Max Verstappen looking serious. Bahrain March 2022

Max Verstappen’s tactics after the safety car came in during the Bahrain Grand Prix have been questioned by fellow Dutchman and former F1 driver Jan Lammers.

Aside from a brief overtake before being re-overtaken in lap 18, Verstappen had trailed race leader Charles Leclerc for the entirety of the race but looked as if he may have a chance to snatch the lead late on when the Safety Car came out.

A fire to Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri car brought out the Safety Car, allowing Verstappen to close the gap to Leclerc before the restart and the Dutchman was side-by-side with the Ferrari driver as they approached the starting line.

Verstappen, as he did against Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi, pulled alongside Leclerc in an effort to force him to take off and start racing, however it backfired as the Red Bull driver went too tight on the final corner.

Not only did this allow Leclerc to speed away and restore the gap but it also meant Leclerc’s team-mate Carlos Sainz was able to attack Verstappen.

The Spaniard pulled alongside Verstappen and was almost able to overtake before the Red Bull driver defended his position.

Verstappen’s car would eventually go on to fail, ultimately meaning his Safety Car tactics would have been in vain anyway had he overtaken Leclerc, but his decision to take the corner so tightly has been questioned by former F1 driver Jan Lammers.

Lammers, who started 23 races from 1979 to 1992, pondered if Verstappen had been “smart enough.”

“I’m not saying he’s doing anything wrong, but you have to wonder if he was smart enough to go inside,” Lammers told Dutch TV station NOS.

“Leclerc was able to take the momentum into the last corner and Sainz was right down the neck of Verstappen, because he was able to take the corner normally.”


It is a tactic Verstappen has deployed before, most notably during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2021.

After the Safety Car, Hamilton led but Verstappen was on fresh tyres for the final lap meaning all he had to do was ensure the Mercedes driver did not pull away from him after the restart and he would have been favourite for an overtake.

Verstappen did just that by practically racing alongside Hamilton as the safety car period was ending.

The Brit did eventually pull away but because of the short distance, the Red Bull driver was able to keep within distance and eventually overtake him later in the lap to win the World Championship.


PlanetF1 Verdict


Verstappen’s racing tactics questioned

Jan Lammers has questioned Max Verstappen's racing tactics.