Verstappen frustrated by Toro Rosso miscommunication in Australia

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Max Verstappen made no secret of his frustration after finishing 10th in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix despite spending much of the race battling inside the top five with defending Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen started from P5 on the grid after his best F1 qualifying result to date, and made a good start to run fourth early on ahead of Hamilton.

Verstappen stayed ahead of the Briton after the first round of pit stops and a red flag period, only to drop back when Toro Rosso stuck to its two-stop strategy.

The pit crew did not have all of Verstappen’s tires ready when he came in for his second stop, dropping him behind teammate Carlos Sainz Jr.

Verstappen spent the remainder of the race getting increasingly frustrated behind his teammate, and even made light contact at one point that caused him to spin before coming home in 10th place.

“Quite a frustrating afternoon,” Verstappen said. “We had a great start to the race and were able to keep the Mercedes behind. The first pit-stop was also good.

“We had great pace and I didn’t have pressure from behind, but after the red flag we had a bit of a miscommunication for the second stop and it got very difficult.

“We have a fantastic car and to finish P10 here is not where we should be. I’m very disappointed as this was a great opportunity for us to get a very good result.

“Now we just need to focus on the next race and try and score more points than today.”

Sainz finished just ahead of Verstappen in ninth, and was similarly disappointed to have missed a chance to come away with a bigger points haul.

“I’m not entirely happy with today’s result because I think we could’ve scored more points with the car we have, but I did everything I could to finish as high up as possible,” Sainz said.

“To finish in P9 is frustrating. The race was a bit of a chaos, so it was difficult to get it all right. After the red flag things got interesting and even though it’s not the easiest of tracks to overtake, I was able to do some good moves – some of them were quite tough!

“I did my race and I think we put on a good show. I enjoyed it out there but I think we deserved to end up higher up instead of going backwards after qualifying in P7 yesterday.”

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

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Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.