Vasseur: Verstappen made more errors 'than in last three seasons'


Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur says Max Verstappen has made more mistakes lately than in the last three seasons as the Dutchman and Red Bull feel the pressure of their rivals.

After two dominant campaigns under F1’s ground-effect technical regulations, all signs pointed to the Red Bull-Verstappen combo continuing its forward march in 2024 and leaving their rivals in their dust.

However, Ferrari and McLaren have thrown a wrench into those plans. Upgrades for both teams have resulted in surprise victories this month, allowing them to chip away at Red Bull's lead.

This vulnerability has emboldened Vasseur, who sees the bulls now struggling under pressure.

In Miami, the Milton Keynes-based outfit and Verstappen were defeated by McLaren’s Lando Norris, while the young Briton was only narrowly beaten by the Dutchman at Imola.

In Monaco last weekend, the reigning world champion’s struggles came to a head. At the wheel of a very unsettled RB20, Verstappen was unable to properly get up to speed.

In qualifying, a brush with the barrier put paid to his efforts, leaving him constrained to a lowly P6 on the grid, a position he also held on Sunday.

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For Vasseur, sure signs of pressure and vulnerability have set in at Red Bull.

“I don't want to draw any conclusions about this weekend, but if you look at the last two or three weekends, I think Max made more mistakes in Imola than in the last three seasons,” commented the Scuderia boss.

"If you can stay in your comfort zone every time with the strategy and everything else, you don't make mistakes. They were in that situation, but now they have to push more."

Vasseur noted that the comfortable margin enjoyed by Red Bull last season and which kept Verstappen out of reach of his rivals has significantly shrunk.

“We just didn’t see them, it became evident because they hadn’t been forced to go to the limit,” explained the Frenchman.

“I think last year they had a very decent gap that sometimes we were able to fight with them for the quali. But in the race average it was four or five tenths.

“That means that when you have four or five tenths of difference. You are not really at risk.

“I think it was Jeddah where Max started P9 last year and after three laps he was leading. They had this comfort but everything could happen.

“Even on the strategy that Max pitted in Austria in the last lap to do the fastest lap, it means that on the strategy they had one pit stop of gap.

“And in these conditions, even if you do a mistake, it’s transparent. This season it’s not the case anymore.

“It’s not the case with us but it’s not the case between Red Bull and McLaren because McLaren is closer and from this fight we have to get the best.”

Although Red Bull is facing the heat, by no means are the bulls down and out insists Vasseur.

"They will come back, I'm not worried about that,” he said.

“They will be back quickly and be strong. I’m not considering at all that everything will be easy until the end.”

Vasseur foresees another exiting race in Canada next month.

“Canada, it’s probably almost the opposite of Monaco in terms of speed and force but you have also the characteristic of the kerbs with a lot of low speed corners, chicane and so on, some corners similar to Monaco.

“But overall, if you look at how we performed in Melbourne, we did well in Imola, in Miami we also went well.

“With different tyre compounds, different types of tarmac and different layouts, we did quite well. I think it will remain exciting until the end.”

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