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Max Verstappen

Verstappen's bickering with engineer is another sign of his brilliance

Is there genuine tension between Max Verstappen and his race engineer? Or is it another sign of why he is so dominant currently in Formula 1?

Verstappen Lambiase
To news overview © XPBimages

Even with a grid penalty which meant he started from sixth on the grid plus the limited running in practice owing to the rainy conditions, Max Verstappen was unstoppable in the Belgian Grand Prix.

A 22-second gap over his teammate Sergio Perez in the same car at the end of the race shows just how dominant this car and driver combination is, the likes of which we have not seen at Red Bull since the Sebastian Vettel era.

There were a few challenges along the way for Verstappen, notably his near-miss at Eau Rouge-Raidillon when he lost the rear of his RB19 as the rain came down and made the track slippery.

This prompted a few exchanges between Verstappen and his engineer, Gianpiero Lambiase, nicknamed 'GP' by the team.

Verstappen was told twice to "use your head" while managing the pace out front, with Lambaise later chastising him for taking too much life out of his tyres to set the fastest lap after his final pit-stop.

When the Dutchman retorted by suggesting they can just do some "pit stop training" due to his blistering pace, Lambaise quickly shut down his request with a polite "No, not this time."

It's not uncommon for drivers to have heated exchanges with their engineers over team radio. They are experiencing high heart rates and short breaths between corners, so the intensity with how they talk is to be expected.

Verstappen's open relationship with Lambiase is one of the many pieces that have come together to achieve his title successes, and most recently his run of eight consecutive victories.

Horner: Max is a demanding customer

It was not the first exchange between the pair over the weekend, after Verstappen got agitated over their runs during qualifying.

The Dutchman was unhappy with just getting through to Q3 on two timed runs and ending Q2 only the 10th quickest, branding it "s**t execution" from the team.

Lambiase responded firmly: "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? But you tell me what you want to do in Q3 and we will do it. Sets, fuel, run plan."

Verstappen later apologised for the rant, but Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner believes this is part of what makes him a world-class driver.

"Max is a demanding customer and you've got to be a strong character to deal with that," Horner explained to media, including RacingNews365.

"GP is our Jason Statham equivalent I guess, or certainly a look alike. He deals with him firmly but fairly and there's a great respect between the two of them.

"That comes out of a mutual trust that you must have with an engineer. The problem is that the conversation between the two of them, there are 200 million people listening into it."

			© XPB
	© XPB

Good relationship leads to better performance

Verstappen joked that the seriousness between the radio exchanges between him and Lambiase is "probably 50-50."

But he pointed out that the bond between the pair goes beyond understanding the strategy in a race.

"We know each other very well and we have a very good relationship," he explained.

"I find it always a really important part of your performance, not only your race engineer but everyone very close around you.

"Over the years, you build up much more of a relationship, you know each other much better. For sure if he would be removed that's definitely not ideal at all."

When you put this relationship together with the superior car design, and the slick operation that leads to sub-two-second pit stops at Red Bull, it's easy to see how Verstappen's talent is being utilised to its full potential in this dominant drive to a third world title.

F1 2023 Belgian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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