‘Stumbling Red Bull must make up ground, quickly’

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen PA

Max Verstappen PA

Ross Brawn says Red Bull is in a Catch 22 situation; running to catch up to Mercedes, have to do it quickly and as a result the team is stumbling.

Red Bull was billed as the team to take the fight to Mercedes in this year’s championship. That has yet to happen.

Max Verstappen retired from the opening grand prix, was third at the Styrian Grand Prix when Valtteri Bottas took P2 off him late in the race, and split the Mercedes drivers in Sunday’s Hungarian race.

He was, however, almost nine seconds down the road from race winner Lewis Hamilton, unable to challenge the Brit in what was a sublime performance from the reigning champion and Mercedes.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says the team is dealing with “anomalies” that are causing its RB16 to “misbehave aerodynamically” in some conditions.

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Brawn says that unfortunately happens when a team is pushing as hard as Red Bull is to catch up to another.

“When you’re running to catch up, you often stumble, and that’s what appears to be happening to Red Bull right now,” Brawn said in his post-Hungarian review.

“They have delivered a massive effort technically to try and find some improvements. Some of the developments seem to work, some of them don’t.

“When you’re working at such a pace, you can hit roadblocks, and we’ve seen them stumble with issues in the build-up to the Hungarian Grand Prix.

“They are an experienced team, which is very well resourced, and they recovered on Sunday, but they need to make up ground – and quickly.”

The team’s efforts on Sunday weren’t helped by Verstappen crashing on the way to the grid.

Damaging the front of his car, his mechanics had to change a push rod, the nose, and other parts, doing it with 25 seconds to spare.

“They showed their depth and expertise on Sunday, when they had to repair Max’s heavily damaged car at speed, with the start of the race fast approaching,” said Brawn. “It was stunning.

“I have seen recoveries like that in the past, often less public as they happened inside garages, but it was an achievement as extraordinary and impressive as anything I’ve ever seen.”

The Formula 1 sporting boss reckons Verstappen was “simply exceptional” in the manner in which he put his mistake behind him and raced to second place.

“I think Max felt massive guilt towards the team for putting them through such drama ahead of the race and he was not about to let them down again after they completed that remarkable fix.

“Max is simply exceptional – and he showed that in the way he rescued a result no one in the team on the grid will have felt was possible, let alone after the difficult weekend they had had up until that point.

“It is that kind of performance which shows why Red Bull are so desperate to give him the car that he needs to challenge consistently at the front. They know that if they can do that, they have a chance of challenging Lewis for the Championship.

“This is an intense season, with the races coming up thick and fast, and both Max and Red Bull will know they need to react quickly as they can’t let Lewis get away from him. Do that and the title will be lost.”

Sunday’s result puts Red Bull second in the championship on 55 points with Mercedes leading the championship with 121.

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