MIAMI (Reuters) – Max Verstappen celebrated his third win of the Formula One season with victory in the Miami Grand Prix on Sunday, then promptly demanded his Red Bull team come to grips with reliability issues.
The Dutchman has won all three races that he has completed this season but failed to finish in Bahrain and Australia because of fuel-related problems.
Hydraulic problems and an issue with a rear brake limited Verstappen to a handful of laps in Friday’s opening practice sessions in Miami, leaving him with little information on the track before Saturday’s qualifying, where he grabbed third place on the grid.
In Sunday’s race he was quickly able to get in front of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, and then on the ninth lap overtook Charles Leclerc, who had started in pole, grabbing the lead.
“It’s a very good comeback. I didn’t even do a [practice] start, so I didn’t know what to expect in the actual start. But we had a good launch, and I saw the opportunity to go around the outside [of Sainz] in Turn 1 so I tried. Luckily it worked,” he said.
Although the Dutchman was clearly delighted with the 23rd win of his career in F1, he was eager to remind his team that they needed to step up their game.
“I had a lot of issues on Friday, which compromises your weekend, and especially (qualification) yesterday. Today everything went well with the start, but it also could have been the other way around.
“So we just have to nail down a really positive weekend without issues,” he said.
“At Imola we had that, but it’s still a bit of a hit and miss too much too much. So we just have to make sure that we are more reliable and more on top of things. But as you can see the car is quick and I’m very happy about that. I mean, if we would be slow and reliable, that’s probably also not a good thing,” he said.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said Verstappen’s teammate Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez’s car had a problem that hampered his effort to reach the podium.
“We had a sensor issue on Checo’s engine, the guys did well to move them around but he lost probably 30 horsepower with that,” he said.
“He was losing half a second a lap, without that he might even have been second. With the tyre advantage, because we’d pitted him, he had that grip advantage over the Ferraris.”
The Red Bull chief struck a confident tone for the future with his team just six points behind Ferrari in the constructors’ championship and Verstappen 19 points behind Leclerc in the drivers’ standings.
“The car’s running well. We’ve got some developments hopefully coming later in the summer that will help as well, we need to save a little bit of weight but generally we’re on a good trajectory,” he said.
(Reporting by Simon Evans. Editing by Gerry Doyle)