'Like driving with handbrake on' - Verstappen on Melbourne exit

Three-time world champion forced to retire early due to mechanical problems

AFP March 24, 2024


Three-time world champion Max Verstappen said it felt like driving "with the handbrake on" after retiring from the Australian Grand Prix Sunday with smoke billowing from his Red Bull.

The Dutchman started from pole and was heavily favoured to win for a third time this season after emphatic victories in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

But it went horribly wrong almost immediately when he was passed by Ferrari's Carlos Sainz on lap two before his brakes seized up and his race was over.

"What we can see so far from the data is that as soon as the lights went off the right-rear brake just stuck on," he said.

"It just caused the damage and it kept on increasing so it was also basically driving with the handbrake on.

"That's why the car felt really weird to drive in some corners, just very snappy, while the laps to the grid the car was really spot on and I was happy with what we were doing.

"But if a brake is stuck on it doesn't help."

It ended any hope he had of matching his own record set last year of 10 consecutive wins and snapped his unbeaten streak of winning from 18 previous pole positions.

His brake failure ended a run of 43 consecutive races without a retirement.

"Of course, we had a lot of good races in a row, a lot of good reliability," said the 26-year-old.

"And I knew that the day would come that you end up having a retirement and unfortunately that day was today."

Red Bull team chief Christian Horner admitted it was a frustrating day, with Sergio Perez finishing fifth.

"It was not the race we were looking to run," he said.

"Really frustrating to get our first DNF in two years, a lot to understand from that race but disappointing to be leaving here with just a bit less than usual.

"Huge respect for Carlos though, coming back from surgery and putting in a drive like that is remarkable," he added.

"It was a great performance from him and Ferrari, they took their opportunity and got the result they deserved."


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