Poor Red Bull driver Max Verstappen has had the worst luck with his car this year, but his teammate Daniel Ricciardo claims to have the answer. You’ve got to sweet-talk the car a little. Be gentle. Massage it a bit. Erm, are you sure we’re still talking about racing a car?
Verstappen’s had a tough time just finishing races this year, DNFing six of the twelve races so far. Ricciardo, who just finished third at Spa and currently sits in fourth place in the world drivers’ championship, volunteered this mega-awkward theory on how to make a finicky Renault (er, um, “Tag Heuer”)-powered Formula One car last in the post-Belgian Grand Prix press conference:
I do a lot of things with my driving style which is very nice to the car. I actually talk to it a lot during the race. I massage it. I wouldn’t call it foreplay but it’s something like that and Max is young, he’s aggressive, he goes straight in! I know you’re shaking your head but I feel like you knew the answer would be something silly like that. In all seriousness, I don’t have an answer for it. I’ve honestly… I have asked before. I’ve even asked all the guys in the team, the mechanical and also from the power unit side and I’ve said is there something you see Max is doing which I should maybe avoid and they said no, there’s nothing he’s doing. He’s not over-revving it or anything silly. It’s unfortunate.
And there we have it: the last time I ever want to think about Max Verstappen and foreplay in the same sentence, ever. Nope. That’s enough F1 banter for one lifetime. I’m going to nope right on out of here all the way to Nopeza. Nope.
Beneath the ick-factor, Ricciardo actually has a point. Some race cars (including my own) don’t respond well to being driven at their absolute limit for an entire race, and you’ve got to know when to back off.
But sadly, he’s not making the right point for the teammate who’s convinced his car is cursed with near-Honda-grade reliability, as Ricciardo notes that Verstappen isn’t over-revving the engine or anything. Three cheers for cringing a bit for no reason in particular!