Max Verstappen explains why Red Bull car burst into flames

Verstappen was forced to retire on Lap 3 after an issue with his Red Bull car


Max Verstappen has revealed a brakes failure was behind his shock retirement from the Formula 1 2024 Australian Grand Prix, as the Red Bull driver aimed a punchy comment at Lewis Hamilton after a frustrating Sunday at Albert Park.

The Dutchman had won both of the opening races of the 2024 season at a canter in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and was the sure-fire favourite to lead home a 10th consecutive race win in Melbourne after securing pole position on Saturday.

But Verstappen’s day turned into a nightmare after he was passed by Carlos Sainz on Lap 2 under DRS, and shortly after, smoke could be seen emanating from the rear of his RB20 car. The situation only worsened as he continued, with TV cameras showing the extent of the problem with his rear brakes catching fire.

The championship leader was forced to retire on Lap 5 after limping back to the pits, and it didn’t take long for the team to discover the reason behind the mechanical issue – a rarity in itself for the 2023 constructors’ winners.

“What we can see so far from the data is that as soon as the lights went off the right-rear brake just stuck on,” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1. “It just caused the damage and it kept on increasing so it was also basically driving with the handbrake on.

“That’s why the car felt really weird to drive in some corners, just very snappy, while the laps to the grid the car was really spot on and I was happy with what we were doing. But if a brake is stuck on it doesn’t help.”

Verstappen taunts his former rival

His DNF was the second in three races in Australia, after retiring with a power unit failure in 2022. It also brought a disappointing end to Verstappen’s run of 43 consecutive race finishes and nine wins in a row.

However, he will stay at the top of the drivers’ standings unless Sergio Perez finishes third or higher, as he had a 15-point buffer to his Red Bull team-mate heading into the race.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 24: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 leads Carlos Sainz of Spain driving (55) the Ferrari SF-24 during the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Circuit on March 24, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202403240215 // Usage for editorial use only //

Verstappen was not the only driver to suffer misfortune with his car, as his one-time title rival Hamilton forced out of the race after an engine failure.

The Mercedes star was running down in 10th place when his engine cut out, and the Briton shouted: “Engine failure, engine failure!” on the radio.

And clearly, there is no love lost between them as far as Verstappen is concerned. When speaking to the media after the race, having been informed of Hamilton’s retirement, Verstappen simply replied: “S*** happens, right?”

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
- Advertisment -


Christian Horner hits back at Sergio Perez as he’s drawn into Carlos Sainz contract...

Christian Horner has praised Carlos Sainz as a key player in the 2025 Formula 1 driver market while dampening...
Lando Norris during 2024 F1 testing | McLaren F1 Team

Why Lando Norris’ Chinese GP sprint pole lap was reinstated by FIA

Lando Norris experienced the highs and lows of qualifying all in the space of a few seconds after seeing...
Charles Leclerc during the 2024 Australian GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Charles Leclerc vents frustration after Ferrari sprint qualifying failure

Charles Leclerc has lamented his latest error in qualifying after the Ferrari driver experienced a frightening near-miss ahead of...
Max Verstappen of Red Bull during Sprint Qualifying at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Verstappen gives Hamilton and Norris Chinese GP sprint hope with twin Red Bull worries

Max Verstappen conceded he could struggle at the start of the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix sprint race starting on...
Lewis Hamilton during 2024 Chinese Grand Prix, practice | Mercedes / Sam Bloxham

Lewis Hamilton at odds with Toto Wolff despite Chinese GP sprint shock

Lewis Hamilton believes he maintains a chance of winning the F1 Sprint at the Formula 1 2024 Chinese Grand...
Lando Norris during 2024 Japanese GP | McLaren F1 Team

Lando Norris rides rain and fire to take chaotic Chinese GP sprint pole

Lando Norris took the latest of pole positions as carnage ensued in sprint qualifying, with a rain-soaked SQ3 coming...
Grass at the Shanghai International Circuit caught fire during FP1 and Sprint Qualifying at the 2024 Chinese GP | Sky Sports F1

Chinese GP struck by fires as Shanghai Circuit burns on Friday

Formula 1 Sprint Qualifying was thrust into chaos on Friday morning when fires hit the Shanghai International Circuit as...
Sergio Perez of Red Bull during Sprint Qualifying at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Chinese Grand Prix 2024 – Sprint Qualifying Results

Lando Norris clinched a dramatic Formula 1 pole position during the rain-affected sprint qualifying at the 2024 Chinese Grand...
Max Verstappen of Red Bull during Sprint Qualifying at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Chinese Grand Prix 2024 Sprint Qualifying – Highlights

Welcome to this live blog for Sprint Qualifying at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix, coming to you directly from the paddock...
Lance Stroll during practice for the 2024 Chinese GP | Aston Martin

Chinese Grand Prix 2024 – Free Practice 1 Results

Lance Stroll led the first free practice session of the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix, outpacing McLaren's Oscar Piastri and...
- Advertisment -