Verstappen: Braking issues definitely made US GP win 'tougher'


Max Verstappen conquered his 50th career win in F1 on Sunday in Austin, but the Red Bull driver was made to work for his triumph as he battled a race-long braking issue on his RB19.

Verstappen succeeded in winning the US Grand Prix despite having only managed to qualify in sixth place on the grid on Friday evening.

Early on it looked like the Red Bull driver was taking things unusually easy, biding his time over the opening laps to stay clear of danger and preserve his medium tyres over the initial stint.

He nonetheless still managed to move inexorably forward, and duly took the lead of the race for the first time on lap 28, having started the race on back-to-back stints on the medium compound tyres.

But listening in to the Red Bull team radio is was clear that things were far from business as normal in the cockpit, as Verstappen grew increasingly frustrated with his brakes.

From early in the race he was telling his long-suffering race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase that “these brakes are so s***”, and repeatedly telling the Red Bull pit wall not to speak to him while he was in a braking zone.

Verstappen was still able to maintain a lead for the rest of the race, but came under heavy pressure from Lewis Hamilton toward the ends - and could even have lost to the Mercedes if there had been an extra two or three laps to go.

Afterwards Verstappen admitted that Sunday's victory had been much harder work than his normal run of wins this season in which Red Bull has generally been consistently dominant in race trim.

“It started already with starting in P6, but the whole race I was struggling a lot with the brakes," he said in parc ferme. “Around here there are quite a few braking points and I didn’t really have the same feel as yesterday.

(L to R): Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren MCL60 and Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19 battle for position. 22.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

"You don’t want to destroy the tyres, but at the same time I was struggling a lot on the braking, so it took quite a while to at least find a bit of a middle way.

"That definitely made my race a bit tougher out there today," he confirmed. “You could see it was very close to the end.

“We changed the brakes after yesterday and it was not good," he subsequently told Sky Sports F1. "I had no good feeling under braking, and I couldn’t really get on top of it for the whole race.

“This is something we need to understand," he agreed. "When you are not very confident around here under braking you just don’t have a nice feeling under braking and when you come off it.

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme. 22.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Price / XPB Images

“I’ve never really struggled in braking so far in my F1 career but today it definitely was a problem," he added. “It can cost you quite a bit of lap time so it was a bit more difficult than I expected."

Team principal Christian Horner knew what the problems had cost the driver: “As soon as you start managing that issue, it interferes with your tyre temperatures and everything else.

"I thought he did a very good job to do that,” Horner added. “Difficult to predict what it cost in pace, but you could see he didn't enjoy the same advantage of pace, if you like, that he had yesterday [in the Sprint]."

Traffic was also a contributory factor to Verstappen's problems in the closing laps. "With the backmarkers, when the tyres are really going, it makes it a little bit more difficult," he said.

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19 celebrates at the end of the race. 22.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

Today's win is the 50th Grand Prix victory under Verstappen's belt. He also equalled his own record for most race wins in a single season, and there are still four more races to go which he has every chance of adding to the tally.

“It’s of course incredible to win my 50th Grand Prix here," he acknowledged. “Very proud of course, and we’ll just keep on trying to push for more.”

However the podium celebrations were marred by overwhelming loud booing from the fans in the grandstands as Verstappen was presented with his winner's trophy.

It wasn't clear whether the crowd was complaining about Verstappen's current domination of the sport, or a protest about his Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez's position reportedly at risk.

The Mexican's home Grand Prix is next weekend, the third race in a triple header run of races, meaning there were a lot of Perez fans in attendance in Austin this weekend.

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter