Verstappen reveals Baku change as the cause behind F1 domination

Max Verstappen has won every race after finishing second at the 2023 Azerbaijan GP

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Max Verstappen reveals a tweak in his driving and setup at April’s 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix as a reason behind his recent dominance, which saw him take a third consecutive Dutch GP victory.

In a race marred by rain, Verstappen led convincingly once he overtook teammate Sergio Perez after the first pit stop, taking his 46th career victory and his third in front of his home crowd.

But the seeds of his 46th F1 victory came in Baku when, after a difficult weekend, Verstappen found the set-up he needed to unlock the potential of the RB19.

“Yeah, I learned a lot from Baku [on] to do some things with the car and how to set it up,” said Verstappen in the FIA post-race press conference. “Because I didn’t win that race.

“I tried a lot of stuff and different tools in the car, and that’s why I drove the race a little bit inconsistent, but then I got into a good rhythm.

“I was like, okay, that’s quite interesting for the next race, and I implemented that [from there]. The race very hectic seeing the rain coming down.

“It was tough to make the right calls. The team told me there was rain coming, but maybe not enough to switch to an inter. That was the wrong call, but it made the race more fun.”

The Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen had contrasting weekends at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Not thinking about matching Vettel

Verstappen’s victory in Zandvoort meant he joined former world champions Sebastian Vettel and Alberto Ascari as the only drivers to have won nine consecutive races.

It has been a record-breaking season for Verstappen, who became Red Bull‘s most successful driver and surpassed Ayrton Senna on Formula 1‘s all-time winners list. 

“No, it was something I never even thought about,” admitted Verstappen. And so yeah, it’s very, very happy with that. But in general, I’m very happy to win in front of your home crowd.

“Then we went on the slick tyres as well. I think the tyres were holding up quite well on the car for my stint, and it was very enjoyable to drive. But then you think you’re going to have an easy ride home. 

“Then there’s still the potential for some rain coming again, not just some rain, there was quite a lot. So we pitting for inters, and within a lap, it almost becomes undrivable.

“We opted to go to an extreme wet. But the problem we have at the moment is that the intermediate is basically too good compared to the extreme. So you still want to be on inters because it’s faster.”

Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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