Red Bull opt for caution by fitting new gearbox for Max Verstappen

Thomas Maher
Max Verstappen driving the Red Bull RB19. Saudi Arabia, March 2023.

Max Verstappen driving the Red Bull RB19 at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Saudi Arabia, March 2023.

Max Verstappen’s RB19 has been fitted with a complete new gearbox after encountering issues during Friday practice in Saudi Arabia.

The FIA have confirmed that Max Verstappen has taken a new gearbox in the back of his Red Bull, with the team opting to change the Dutch driver’s gearbox after encountering issues during practice.

On Friday, Verstappen was heard on team radio complaining about ‘long downshifts’ into the slow corners littered around the uber-fast Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

While Verstappen completed his Friday running and topped the times at the end of Friday’s running, Red Bull have opted for caution by fitting the BR19 with a new gearbox case and cassette, as well as driveline and gear change components and ancillaries. recommends

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Red Bull won’t take a grid penalty for gearbox change

All are within the permitted allocation of four gearboxes that each driver is permitted for the season, meaning Red Bull won’t face a penalty for the change. However, the change is still likely to cause some concern for the Milton Keynes-based squad as they’ve needed to dip into a second set of components at just the second round of the 23-race championship.

“The gearbox case and cassette used by Max Verstappen is one of the four new gearbox cases and cassettes allowed for the 2023 Championship season and this is in conformity with Article 29.2 of the 2023 Formula One Sporting Regulations,” confirmed the FIA during the third practice session in Saudia Arabia, which Verstappen topped as Red Bull claimed a 1-2 in the final hour before qualifying.

Verstappen finished Friday’s running half a second clear of teammate Sergio Perez, but said he expects the long runs to be closer as the weekend progresses.

“Out on track was about finetuning things, we had a positive day but there are still quite a few things we can do better,” he said.

“On the long runs, we all seemed fairly close to each other but it’s more because of managing the tyres because they don’t really let you push around here at the moment. With a very low deg circuit then the lap times will always be very close, so it is definitely not going to be like Bahrain.”