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Max Verstappen explains source of Red Bull car issues during Chinese GP Sprint Race

The Dutchman went from fourth to first around Shanghai to take victory at the 2024 Chinese GP F1 Sprint Race


A poor Sprint Qualifying effort by Max Verstappen gave everyone hope that Formula 1 might see a different winner once again across the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix weekend, but those hopes were ruthlessly crushed as the Dutchman overcame reliability concerns to cruise to victory in the first F1 Sprint of the season, but what was plaguing him?

An uncharacteristic mistake in wet conditions saw the defending world champion line up in fourth for the first Sprint Race of the season behind Lando Norris, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso but you wouldn’t know that if you looked at the classification times as he won by 13 seconds at the Shanghai International Circuit.

Yet, he didn’t have it all his own way. For a significant portion of the event, the 26-year-old was on the backfoot and at the very best, only matching the pace of the two cars ahead of him. In fact, he was even defending from Carlos Sainz at one stage and attributed the absence of speed to battery issues.

“The first two laps I had to really defend,” Verstappen said to select members of the press after the race, including Total-Motorsport.com. “But at the same time also my battery ran out, it was not charging basically.

“So, I had to do some changes on the steering wheel and then it takes like two three laps before you have a bit of a battery back in the pack, then my pace started to pick up.

“Before that I was just clipping a lot and losing a lot of top speed, so once I had that all under control, and then also the peak of the new tyre was gone, I could ease up to Fernando [Alonso], get him, then ease up to Lewis [Hamilton] and just rely on the pace of the car.”

What is clipping in F1?

Clipping is perhaps the most common battery issue reported by drivers, or complained by them to their engineers, and it refers to the deployment running out before reaching the end of the straight as the battery goes back into recharge mode.

Max Verstappen of Red Bull leads Carlos Sainz of Ferrari during the Sprint ahead of the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen of Red Bull leads Carlos Sainz of Ferrari during the Sprint ahead of the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

This leaves drivers vulnerable to cars with good top speeds and good energy deployments behind with electrical power being worth a massive 160bhp benefit to the maximum velocity of these F1 turbo-hybrid cars.

It’s caused by a variety of factors, which can be excessive use of the energy recovery system (ERS) to defend and hold position, a miscalibration whilst setting the car up for the weekend or a genuine reliability issue and for Verstappen, it appeared to be a mix of the first two.

But fortunately for himself and his Red Bull crew, with some changes to settings and some good old fashioned hustling, the championship leader managed to claim the lead of the Sprint Race and went on to consistently lap over a second faster than Hamilton as he cruised to the line.

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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