Max Verstappen apologises after heated team radio ‘rant’ at race engineer at Spa

Oliver Harden
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen in conversation at the Belgian Grand Prix. Spa, July 2023.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen in conversation at the Belgian Grand Prix. Spa, July 2023.

Max Verstappen issued an apology to his Red Bull race engineer for a mid-session team radio rant after setting the fastest lap in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.

The reigning World Champion secured his eighth pole position of the 2023 season at Spa on Friday with a lap eight tenths quicker than Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari, but was fortunate to even reach the final stage of qualifying after being classified 10th in Q2.

After just squeezing through into Q3, Verstappen – who will start Sunday’s grand prix from sixth after incurring a five-place grid penalty for exceeding his gearbox allocation – made his unhappiness with his Q2 run plan clear as he lambasted the Red Bull team and race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase over team radio.

Max Verstappen rants at race engineer after Q2 scare

The interaction went as follows:

Verstappen: “I should have just ****ing pushed two laps in a row, like I said.”

Lambiase: “So, you are through, Max.”

Verstappen: “Yeah, I don’t give a ****… it’s just **** 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 went on to set the quickest time by a massive margin and apologised personally to Lambiase over the radio on the cooldown lap.

“Woah! Nice gap, that!” Verstappen said of his advantage over Leclerc. “At least we had a good Q3. Sorry to GP for being so on the rant.”

“Slowly getting used to it, Max,” Lambiase replied.

Verstappen later explained why he was so irate in the post-session interviews, telling Le Mans legend and master of ceremonies Tom Kristensen: “It was very tight.

“Of course, the conditions are very tricky. The track was really drying quickly and [on] my final lap in Q2 I just didn’t have that confidence to push more and I was very lucky to be in P10.

“But then, of course, in Q3, you have to tyre sets that you can push a little bit more, you can risk a little bit more, and that’s what we did on that final lap.

“I know that I have to drop back on Sunday with the penalty I have, but it was the best I could do today.”

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With qualifying held on a drying track after intense rain in the Spa region, Verstappen outlined the key to finding time as the track evolved throughout the session.

“I guess Sector 2 was still a bit damp, so there was only one dry line, or in some corners you had to do a bit of an alternative line to normal in the dry,” he said.

“It was all about just feeling confident and basically risking everything in that final run to get more lap time.

“We know that the car was quick and I think even with these tricky conditions today, luckily we could show that again.

Verstappen memorably won from 14th on the grid at Spa in 2022 and insists an eighth straight win for him – and a 13th in succession for Red Bull – is still very much achievable on Sunday.

“Last year I had more penalties and we could still win the race, so that’s still the target on Sunday,” he said.

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