Verstappen: I felt like the car was falling apart

By Sports Desk July 03, 2022

Max Verstappen says his Red Bull felt like it was "falling apart" in a frustrating day for the Formula One championship leader at Silverstone.

Verstappen took the lead from pole sitter Carlos Sainz after the Ferrari driver made an unforced error and went wide, but his advantage lasted just a few laps after then suffering structural damage.

The defending champion ran over a piece of debris and believed he had suffered a puncture, but a pit stop did not solve the problem and it was later revealed he had sustained significant structural damage to the floor of his Red Bull.

That left Verstappen unable to fight his way up the order and instead had to see off pressure from Haas driver Mick Schumacher, who secured a first points finish in F1, and the Dutch ace says the incident "destroyed" the side of his car.

"I'd just gone into the lead because of Carlos' 'moment' and then a few corners later, there was a piece of debris on the racing line," he told Sky Sports.


"As soon as I arrived there [on the line], I could not drastically turn left or right, so I tried to hit it head on. Normally, it would just get pushed away, but this time it went in my floor and destroyed the whole left-hand side of my floor.

"Within two corners, I felt like the car was falling apart. I thought initially I had a puncture, which was not the case, but even after that the car was a handful to drive."

The issues saw Verstappen's lead over team-mate Sergio Perez in the championship drop to 34 points, with the Mexican driver coming second, but Verstappen believes the result was still a positive one after the issues he sustained.

"I think overall to finish seventh with that car, it was still a good result. It's better than zero points that's for sure," he added.

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  • FIA chief denies sexism accusations and claims he faced ‘inhuman’ smear campaign FIA chief denies sexism accusations and claims he faced ‘inhuman’ smear campaign

    Formula One boss Mohammed Ben Sulayem has defended historic sexist remarks on his personal website in which he allegedly said he does “not like women who think they are smarter than men” – and revealed that he was subjected to a racist slur as he campaigned to become FIA president.

    In a PA news agency interview, the 62-year-old Emirati – elected to the biggest job in motor sport in December 2021 – vehemently denied claims of misogyny and said he had been the target of an “inhuman” smear campaign.

    Ben Sulayem also compared Lewis Hamilton’s contentious championship defeat in 2021 to England’s 1966 World Cup final win against West Germany, following Sir Geoff Hurst’s controversial ‘offside’ goal, while reiterating his belief that Michael Masi – the man accused of denying Hamilton a record eighth world title – could return to the sport.

    In January, Ben Sulayem was quoted on an archived version of his old website saying that he does “not like women who think they are smarter than men, for they are not in truth”. At the time, the FIA said the comments, which date back to 2001, “do not reflect the president’s beliefs”.

    But personally addressing the remarks for the first time, Ben Sulayem told PA: “What did I say, if I said it? Let’s assume it was (me). I tell you exactly what it said. It says: ‘I hate when women think they are smarter than us’. But they hate when men think they are smarter than them.

    “Did I say we are smarter? No. Did I say they are less smarter? No. For God’s sake, if that is the only thing they have against me, please be my guest, you can do worse than that.

    “People can go back and see what has been said, and if I have said anything against women. In 117 years of the FIA, I am the only president who brought in a female CEO (Natalie Robyn).

    “I made the commission for EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion), and I brought a woman in (adviser, Tanya Kutsenko).

    “There is disrespect to women if you say we have to have 30 per cent (female staff). You bring them in on merit and credibility. And that is why they are there.

    “Look at Bernie Ecclestone’s wife. (Fabiana Ecclestone, Vice-President for Sport in South America). She is one of the most active. They said that I brought her in because of the support from Bernie. But Bernie doesn’t have any connection with any votes. He has no power over them.”

    Ben Sulayem took the unprecedented decision to relinquish the day-to-day running of F1 in February after he clashed with the sport’s American owners Liberty Media over the introduction of an 11th team and questioned the valuation of the sport.

    A month later his son, Saif, died in a road traffic accident in Dubai. In April, further allegations emerged after the Daily Telegraph reported that Shaila-Ann Rao – the FIA’s former interim secretary general for motorsport – wrote a letter to the governing body accusing Ben Sulayem of sexist behaviour.

    “When we opened a position as CEO, Shaila-Ann wanted to be the CEO,” continues Ben Sulayem. “I could not get involved. I said, ‘Shaila, you are good, go through with the process’. We had 150 applications, and everybody went through that process.”

    Ben Sulayem then reaches for his phone to reveal a WhatsApp message he claims to be from Rao thanking him for hosting her at the Italian Grand Prix earlier this season.

    He adds: “I don’t want to do any comment. But that is from September. Sexism, please! Do they have anything else? Why don’t they come and confront me?”

    Ben Sulayem continues: “The attack on me earlier this year was inhuman, with the tragedy that I had. I would love that if I did these things that I was accused of, you sit with me, challenge me and confront me. But don’t fabricate and throw things at me, and then when I tell you to prove it, you run away and don’t come back. That is not the way.”

    Asked if he was being targeted, the former rally driver, who is midway through a four-year term, replies: “Yes. Because I am doing the right thing.

    “Imagine in my campaign, in Europe, that someone said to me: ‘Don’t ever think we will accept our president of the FIA to be an Arab Muslim with the name of Mohammed’.

    “I laughed because I knew how to beat him – by winning. But my Christian team were so upset with him. I said, ‘no, leave it, please, this is something I expect from them’. But can we go back to work? And work for the passion that we love, which is motorsport, and improve it?”

    Ben Sulayem succeeded Jean Todt five days after Hamilton was sensationally denied a record eighth world title at the 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi.

    Race referee Masi’s failure to imply the correct rules left Hamilton at the mercy of Max Verstappen. The Dutchman took the championship in the desert before quickly racking up another two titles in his all-conquering Red Bull. Hamilton has not won a race since.

    A subsequent FIA investigation blamed “human error” before Masi was removed from his post. However, the governing body stopped short of a public apology to Hamilton.

    “I always apologise, but I cannot apologise for something which was done before my time,” said Ben Sulayem. “OK, I will do the apology, but I will bring Michael Masi again. Do you think that is right?

    “The poor guy is a person who has been attacked and abused. Michael Masi went through hell. Hell! And if I see there is an opportunity that the FIA needs, and Michael Masi is the right person, I will bring him.

    “I even had people threatening me to kill me because I had the power to change it (the result). But I said to them: ‘Sorry, the World Cup of 1966, England against Germany, was that correct? Did they change it? No.’ Did they give it to Germany? Nein.”

  • How Max Verstappen compares to Formula One greats after record-breaking season How Max Verstappen compares to Formula One greats after record-breaking season

    Max Verstappen completed the most dominant season in Formula One history with victory in Abu Dhabi.

    After a 19th win in 22 races, the PA news agency looks at how the triple world champion compares to the sport’s all-time stars.

    Among the greats

    Verstappen’s third world championship win put him in elite company as only the 11th driver with a hat-trick of titles to his name.

    Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton share the record of seven crowns apiece, with Juan Manuel Fangio their nearest challenger on five.

    Alain Prost and Sebastian Vettel won four apiece, with Verstappen alongside Sir Jack Brabham, Sir Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet Sr and Ayrton Senna on three.

    Only five drivers – Schumacher, Hamilton, Fangio, Vettel and now Verstappen – have won three in consecutive years. He has the chance next season to match all but Schumacher with a fourth straight title, the German having won five in succession from 2000 to 2004.

    Verstappen has also moved third all-time in terms of race wins. His 53rd, at the season’s penultimate race in Las Vegas, drew him alongside Vettel for that position and in only 184 races compared to the German’s 299.

    Abu Dhabi made it 54 out of 185 and means only Hamilton and Schumacher have won more races – Hamilton has 103 from 331 starts, despite now having gone two seasons without a win, while Schumacher finished with 91 in 306.

    Record breaker

    Verstappen set a notable record during the season with 10 consecutive race wins up to and including September’s Italian Grand Prix.

    That beat Vettel’s run of nine in a row in 2013, also with Red Bull, while Verstappen’s Abu Dhabi win in 2022’s final race and Sergio Perez’s early-season contributions ensured the team won a record 15 in succession.

    The Dutchman’s 19 wins broke his own single-season record of 15, set last year. Only 14 F1 seasons have even had 19 or more races in total.

    While the length of the season and the modern scoring system are both significant factors, his points tally of 575 is a huge record – again, his own 454 last season was the previous best. Unsurprisingly that brought with it a record winning margin, both outright (290 points) and by percentage with more than double the points of second-placed team-mate Perez (285).

    Verstappen also clinched the title with six grands prix remaining, equalling Schumacher’s record from 2002.

    His 86.4 per cent win rate was another record, shattering the 75 per cent mark set back in 1952 – F1’s third ever season – when Alberto Ascari won six of the eight races contested.

    He is the first driver to lead 1,000 or more laps in a season – smashing Vettel’s record of 739 in 2011 and equalling the combined total of McLaren’s dominant 1988 pairing of Senna and Prost.

    Verstappen was the only driver to complete every lap of this season, adding two second places and fifth in Singapore to his 19 wins.

  • Max Verstappen emotional as he says goodbye to dominant 2023 Red Bull car Max Verstappen emotional as he says goodbye to dominant 2023 Red Bull car

    Max Verstappen admitted he was left feeling emotional after bidding farewell to the Red Bull machine that carried him to the most dominant Formula One season ever seen.

    Verstappen ended his crushing championship campaign with his 19th win of the year in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, becoming the first driver to lead 1,000 laps in a single season.

    The all-conquering Dutchman has won 17 of the last 18 races – which included a record streak of 10 straight victories – and wrapped up his third successive world title with six rounds to spare.

    He failed to win on just three occasions, out-scoring Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull by 290 points – the equivalent of nearly 12 Grand Prix victories.

    “It has been an incredible season and I was emotional on the in-lap back to the pits because it was the last time I will sit in a car which has given me so much,” said the 26-year-old.

    “It will be very hard to have another season like this and we know that. Of course, you always want to do better and we are working hard for next year to have a very competitive car.

    “All the other teams out there want to try and beat us next year, but we are ready for the battle.”

    Verstappen is under contract with Red Bull until 2028 and, without a major regulation change until 2026, he could be untouchable for the next two seasons.

    His 54th career win at the Yas Marina Circuit moved him to a standalone third in the all-time list, with only Lewis Hamilton’s 103 wins and Michael Schumacher, on 91 now, ahead of him.

    Red Bull only failed to complete a perfect season following one off-colour weekend in Singapore.

    “To win 21 out of 22 races is insanity,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

    “For Max to have led over 1000 laps out of 1300, to win 19 races and break so many records along the way, this car will go down in history for a considerable point of time as the most successful in Formula One.

    “But nothing stands still in this sport and I am sure concepts will converge, and stable regulations will concertina the grid, so I don’t think we will ever be able to repeat the season we have just had.”

    Following a mammoth nine-month campaign, Verstappen will open his bid for a fourth consecutive title in Bahrain in 96 days.

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