We all saw Max Verstappen pull over by the side of the Albert Park Circuit on lap 39 when chasing race leader Charles Leclerc. He was then heard complaining of smelling weird fluid and that his car was “F***ing itself.”
The problem was diagnosed to be a fuel line problem that caused Verstappen to score a second DNF this season, the first one being at Bahrain where it was certain that he would come second.
It’s not that the car cannot perform. He displayed the RB18 F1 Car’s potential in Saudi Arabia, beating Leclerc by a good half-second. However, Verstappen stands sixth in the drivers’ standings. The difference between him and Leclerc at the no.1 position is 46 points!
70-year-old Former F1 driver Marc Surer thinks that the gap in points isn’t beyond Verstappen’s reach. But he does point out that the way in which his car was put together in Australia didn’t help him in any way.
“With 23 races, it’s actually not that much,” said Surer about the 46-point gap during a video interview for formel1.de.
“It sounds like a lot, it makes a bad impression, but on the other hand, we have to say he won a race. That means he’s capable of winning and I think that’s the most important thing to learn from it.”
Commenting on the Red Bull F1 team, Surer said: “Red Bull also know how to make a car fast,” added the man who finished fourth in the 1985 Italian Grand Prix for Brabham.”
“They already know where their weaknesses are. So I’m not really worried they will catch up again 100% sooner or later.”
Speaking of the fuelling problem at Albert Park in Australia, Surer said: “What happened is that a line broke, so either they have a weak point in there or it’s been badly fitted. That shouldn’t really happen.”
“Either the part was simply too weak or not properly constructed, or what I rather believe, because one (Red Bull) car finished, that probably the assembly was simply sloppy.”
Observing Verstappen’s mood during testing and during the race, Surer states that Verstappen is impatient because he doesn’t have a superior car.
“During testing, I thought he seemed incredibly calm and relaxed,” said Surer.
“But now in the races, he is impatient. I think that also has to do with the fact he doesn’t have the superior car he was hoping for.”
Having dealt with 2 DNFs, Verstappen’s frustration and having known his capability to utilise the full potential of the RB18 F1 car, we can imagine the pressure mounting on the team for next weekend’s race at Imola.