An unhappy Max Verstappen fell just short of completing the ultimate comeback drive in Jeddah, but his critical reaction to Red Bull’s reliability troubles is one Nico Rosberg did not like to hear.
Verstappen looked unstoppable in his pursuit of pole position for the Saudi Arabian GP, that was until he was stopped in Q2 by a driveshaft failure, leaving him P15 on the grid.
The Dutchman was able to work his way back up to P2, helped along the way by the timing of a Safety Car to cover Lance Stroll’s stricken Aston Martin, but he could not get any further than that as team-mate Sergio Perez stayed out of reach to convert his lead into an impressive first win of the season.
Verstappen did at least stop Perez from snatching away his lead in the Drivers’ Championship by setting the fastest lap of the race to earn a bonus point, but in a press conference after the race, Verstappen criticised Red Bull for the mountain that he was given to climb as a result of their qualifying issues.
“Of course, in general, the whole feeling in the team, everyone is happy, but personally, I’m not happy,” he said.
“Because I’m not here to be second, especially when you are working very hard also back at the factory to make sure that you arrive here and in a good state, and basically, you know, making sure that everything is spot on.
“And then yeah, you have to do a recovery race, which I like, I mean, I don’t mind doing it, but it’s when you’re fighting for a championship and especially, you know, when it looks like it’s just between two cars, we have to make sure that also the two cars are reliable.”
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Verstappen was certainly in no mood to smile when he returned to the pit lane after the race, deciding to park his RB19 there rather than out on the track where the top three markers had been set out.
His father Jos was also far from a happy bunny in the garage.
And Rosberg, the 2016 World Champion, took issue with Verstappen’s attitude, saying that he should be “more gracious” considering the challenger which Red Bull have given him, one which Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have suggested is far superior to all others in F1 2023.
“It’s not good to see that really,” Rosberg told Sky Sports F1 regarding Verstappen’s reaction.
“Yesterday he left the track very quickly and skipped the team meeting apparently, that’s what we’ve been told, and I think that’s not a good approach, not a good mentality this early in the season.
“And when the team has done such a brilliant job with that car, and is working so hard and everything, he could be a little bit more gracious maybe, I would say.”