(Motorsport-Total.com) – The battle for the Formula 1 race win in Saudi Arabia could be more exciting than expected. Because big favorite Max Verstappen will only start the race on Sunday from 15th on the grid.
Max Verstappen has to accept the first setback
A broken driveshaft threw a wrench into the works for the world champion in the second quarter, so he has plenty of work to do on Sunday if he also wants to win the second round of the 2023 season.
“It’s very upsetting that this happened,” he said after the hearing on Sky. “So far we’ve had a good weekend and every session has been going really well. Every time we’ve been off the track the car has been running really well.”
Verstappen easily dominated the first qualifying session by half a second, but was unable to set a time in Q2. On his fast lap, the Dutchman suddenly lost his lead after turning 10. Although he was able to get into the pits with his car, he got out of the car and was eliminated.
The glitch came as a surprise
“It’s very frustrating,” team boss Christian Horner told ORF. “There were no signs of problems even before qualifying.”
It was also a complete surprise for Verstappen himself: “So far we haven’t had any problems with that,” he says. “But now it happened. We’re going to analyze everything and we want to understand why it happened.”
Photo Gallery: Formula 1 2023 in Saudi Arabia: The most important thing about Saturday
before that session Red Bull has already changed the car’s gearbox, but the Dutchman doesn’t necessarily see any connection: “I’m having a hard time telling if it’s to do with it, but not usually. I think it was just bad luck.”
But in the end, he finished 15th, and the Red Bull driver said: “Now it will be a little more difficult to get back to the front.” “It’s just about scoring points. The season is long. Of course I wish I could have started a little bigger, but we can’t change that.”
When will Verstappen appear again?
If Verstappen continues to win tomorrow, it will be a win from his worst starting position. The previous record for a Red Bull driver is a win from 14th on the grid in the 2022 Formula 1 race at Spa-Francorchamps.
Most experts trust him to do the same tomorrow: “Well, as fast as he’s had all weekend, he’ll get through there, and halfway through the race we’ll see him on the podium,” former driver Timo Glock told Sky.
Verstappen himself knows the strength of his car, and therefore did not write off a good result: “Anything is possible on this track,” he says with a view to tomorrow. “We’ve seen a lot of crazy things, but we also have to be realistic. It’s going to be tough, but we’ve got a good pace. We’ll definitely pick it up.”
“Obviously I’m disappointed that I didn’t have a proper qualifying session, but on the other hand I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Horner: It is better to be unhappy today than tomorrow
His teammate Sergio Perez, who took pole position like last year, showed how good Red Bull is. “It’s important for the team to have ‘Chico’ up front. That way we definitely have a good chance of bringing the race home,” said Verstappen.
Above all, a Sunday must make sure that he gets away from all the hardships that can happen quickly, especially in the street circuit. That’s why Horner has already introduced racing tactics: “First of all, don’t get involved in any crashes, survive the first lap – and safety cars probably play a role here,” he says.
We have to do our best, keep our heads up and keep pushing, just as always,” said the Briton, who sees it positively.
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