‘Sparky’ radio exchanges were only half serious, says Verstappen
Comments to engineer raised questions about the rapport between the two
“Sparky” radio exchanges between Max Verstappen and his long-time race engineer Gianpiero (GP) Lambiase entertained a global audience during Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix but also raised questions about the rapport between the two.
Verstappen, completely dominant on track with his eighth win running for Red Bull, said all was fine and the pair had a good relationship.
“Probably 50-50,” he said when asked how serious the comments had been.
In a season dominated by a champion now 125 points clear and whose team are in a league of their own with 12 wins from 12 races, any extra spice was to be welcomed.
After a sweary radio outburst during Friday qualifying, which Verstappen apologised for and which Red Bull motorsport head Helmut Marko compared to a tiff between “an old married couple”, the pair locked horns again on Sunday.
Lambiase told the driver to trust and follow his instructions.
When the engineer then informed Verstappen about expected rain and asked if he wanted to pit or stay out, the Dutch driver replied pointedly: “I can't see the weather radar.”
“You used a lot of tyre on the out-lap, Max, not sure that was sensible,” the engineer observed in another comment.
He also asked Verstappen to “use your head a bit more”.
The driver, who won by 22.3sec, came on the radio also in the closing stages to suggest he might do another stop for “a little bit of pit stop training” with the bonus point for the fastest lap at stake.
“No, not this time,” he was told.
Team boss Christian Horner said the pair had a strong bond forged over the years.
“GP and Max have been together since the first race that Max stepped into the car,” he said. “Max is a demanding customer. You’ve got to be a strong character to deal with that.
“GP’s our Jason Statham equivalent I guess, or certainly lookalike,” he joked, comparing his engineer to the tough-guy actor.
“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 ... the only problem is that conversation between the two of them, there are 200-million people listening.”
Horner denied any playing up to an audience.
“To race engineer Max Verstappen you’ve got to have strength of character, because he is one tough customer and many race engineers would crumble under that pressure,” he said.
“Sometimes it gets a bit sparky between the two of them, but Max is the kind of character that will rev very quickly and will come down very quickly. GP doesn’t forget so quickly.”
Meanwhile, Red Bull had a second trophy malfunction in a week on Sunday after the one handed to the winning constructor was broken after a celebratory team photograph.
The race marked Red Bull’s record 12th win in 12 races this season, making them the first Formula One team to achieve such a run in a single year.
In Hungary last Sunday the porcelain race winner’s trophy handed to Verstappen toppled off the podium and smashed after McLaren’s Lando Norris popped his champagne by bashing the bottle on the ground.
“It’s broken again, the trophy’s broken again,” Verstappen shouted in footage posted by Red Bull on Instagram.
Video showed team members rushing towards the camera as others sprayed cans of Red Bull. As they ran, a pit board toppled on the trophy placed in front of it.
“Ready for summer-break,” the team said, with the video showing team members trying to reassemble it. “Don’t worry, we could rebuild this one and it’s on its way to Milton Keynes.”
Formula One is starting its August break after the race at
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