Max Verstappen’s dip in car performance at the Styrian Grand Prix can be explained by a broken endplate getting stuck in the bargeboard area.
Verstappen managed to split the two Mercedes on the starting grid for the second race at the Red Bull Ring but was unable to pose a threat on the runaway race winner Lewis Hamilton.
He had to settle for P3 despite his best efforts to keep the rampaging Valtteri Bottas at bay on fresher tyres.
The brutal nature of the kerbs is one of the key characteristics of the Spielberg track and it has been confirmed that Verstappen fell victim to them as his pace started to ebb away.
His front wing end plate dislodged as a result of going over the kerb and it did not fall completely off the RB16. Instead it stayed stuck in the bargeboard and disrupted the air flow through his car for the rest of the race.
Max Verstappen's re-pass on Valtteri Bottas around the outside of Turn 4 was absolutely awesome. #F1
— Planet F1 (@Planet_F1) July 13, 2020
“We’ve hit one of the yellow things and it’s just taken the bottom of the endplate off,” Red Bull’s chief engineer Paul Monaghan said via Motorsport.com.
“It’s then become wedged in the bargeboard. That hasn’t done any favours either.”
“So not only have we got bits of stuff hanging out of the bottom of the front wing endplate on track, we’ve now got a bargeboard with a dirty bit of footplate in it from the front wing.”
Monaghan also confirmed that the rear of Verstappen’s RB16 also got a battering once they gave it a thorough checking over.
He added: “We’ve incurred a little bit of damage on the rear wing. I suspect some pieces have vibrated and detached. So the condition in which we released the car into the race has not matched the condition in which we’ve received the car back post race.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner pinpointed the kerb damage taking place at the very aggressive Turn 9.
“It was on the kerbs here, on the exit of Turn Nine,” Horner said. “The guys in the operations room immediately saw the loss of downforce.
“We couldn’t see how much damage it had done until the car came into parc ferme at the end of the race there. So, it was a significant shift, but what effect that had on tyre life we need to look closely at the data to understand.”