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Formula 1

‘Eating tyres alive’ – Sprint collapse has Verstappen worried

by Josh Suttill, Scott Mitchell-Malm
2 min read

Two-time Formula 1 champion Max Verstappen believes he’d have finished only fourth in the Brazilian Grand Prix sprint race regardless of his clash with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

Verstappen moved into the lead of the sprint race after breezing past first-time F1 polesitter Kevin Magnussen on lap three of 24.

But he started on medium tyres, unlike all of the other frontrunners.

Verstappen was caught and passed by the soft tyre-shod Mercedes of George Russell, who bolted clear after overtaking Verstappen on the run to the Descida do Lago on lap 15.

Carlos Sainz was next up to pass Verstappen and made his move at the Senna S, only for the duo to collide on the exit as Verstappen’s front wing clipped the rear of Sainz’s Ferrari.

While he was defending from Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen’s front wing endfence shed carbon fibre and he dropped back from the leading three drivers before finishing in fourth place.

But Verstappen believes Mercedes simply had a faster car and that wouldn’t have changed if he started on the soft tyres or not sustained the damage.

“It was just degging way too hard, somehow the mediums, they didn’t last at all,” Verstappen said.

“We had no pace. But even on the soft, I think we wouldn’t have had that pace like Mercedes had.

“So that’s a little bit worrying for tomorrow. We of course will definitely analyse everything, normally there’s not so much you can do to make it better.”

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner reiterated Verstappen’s view that Mercedes was quicker and explained the logic behind the decision to start on the mediums.

“We felt the soft was a bit limited in range so we took the decision to start on the medium, if we could survive the first 12 laps of the race the second half of the race would become a little bit more comfortable,” Horner explained to Sky.

“Having survived the first half of the race we ended up in a worse degradation than the softs.

“Mercedes had a very quick car today, we just couldn’t hold them off.”

Verstappen also believed his clash with Sainz made little difference to the result.

Xpb 1183867 Hires

“I had no grip from the tyres, so just eating tyres alive,” Verstappen explained.

“I don’t know why it was like that.

“Then of course with the contact my front wing was a bit damaged but I think even with a complete front wing I would have been fourth. It didn’t really matter a lot.”

Verstappen called the contact with Sainz “a bit unfortunate” and didn’t appear to place blame on either party, a notion Sainz shared in the post-race press conference.

Verstappen reported running over debris on the opening lap, something Horner says the team will analyse to find out if that “affected the car at all” in the race.

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