What’s wrong with Red Bull? Max Verstappen bleeds time in crucial part of Monaco circuit

The Dutchman was slower than Sergio Perez in the second sector at Monaco during FP2

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Max Verstappen’s 2024 Monaco Grand Prix weekend has shades of Imola as he found himself at odds with his Red Bull car once again, only this time it’s so much worse as he ranks below Sergio Perez in Sector 2 around the streets of Monte Carlo.

In fact, the defending champion isn’t even in the top three in Sector 1 either as his weekend continues to lurch from disaster to disaster, battling an unpredictable rear end, bouncing over the bumps and kerbs and collisions with the walls around the twisting Circuit de Monaco.

The result is that he finished Free Practice 2 a distant 0.535 tenths off Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari, but worryingly had been beaten by Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. The Mercedes and Aston Martin leapt above the Red Bull despite otherwise being unable to land a glove on the world champions throughout the rest of the season…

Notably, current championship leader is losing a lot of time to his Monegasque rival in the second sector, which runs from Turn 5 to Turn 12 (Tabac). In this sequence, which includes the hairpin, tunnel and Nouvelle Chicane, Verstappen is losing 0.341 alone to the Ferrari and 0.188 to Alonso too.

Compared to his teammate, the Red Bull ace doesn’t even have an edge over the Mexican in the middle sector. Here he is 0.008 slower too, underlining just how much he’s struggling to find some lap time in the place he lives.

Sector 2 seems as though it prioritises a reliance on straight-line speed, thanks to the run from Portier (Turn 8) down to Tabac (Turn 12), but this is a misconception. The key part of this lap is rotation with tight corners like Turn 5 and Turn 6, and the ability to be able to take the kerbs to cut down the track.

Kerb-riding is especially key in Mirabeau Bas (Turn 7) and the Nouvelle Chicane (Turn 10 and 11), such is the dependence in the chicane that if you can’t clip the inside kerb then it’s impossible to open up the exit.

From there, it doesn’t matter how much straight-line speed you have, you’ll spend the run down to Turn 12 trying to catch-up on any momentum lost from the terrible exit out of the chicane. The perfect example to see this is how quickly Daniel Ricciardo closed up to Hamilton at the 2016 Monaco GP when the Brit missed the corner.

Max Verstappen during practice ahead of 2024 Monaco Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen during practice ahead of 2024 Monaco Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

What’s going wrong?

Whilst the rest of the lap is slightly better for Verstappen, but it’s still nowhere near enough to get on the front-row, let alone challenge for pole, as he is losing 0.220 to Leclerc in Sector 1 and 0.180 to Leclerc again in the third part of the lap.

As ever, the 26-year-old didn’t leave much margin for error to the walls and he even clipped them several times as he ensured that he pushed to the limit to give Red Bull the best chance they could to break down what’s going on this weekend.

But it didn’t yield much fruit as far as the timing boards were concerned, leaving Verstappen both frustrated and struggling to explain just how difficult he’s finding it this weekend as a tight pack ruthlessly punishes any off days.

“I don’t think I even can describe what’s going on, it’s very difficult,” Verstappen told media, including Total-Motorsport. “It’s not something that I didn’t expect, but it’s definitely at the higher end of the worst possible outcome of the weekend so far.

“It’s very difficult, a lot of bumps and kerbs and just camber changes as well in the track and for us that’s basically impossible to take. Every time we go over it, we lose a lot of lap-time because the car doesn’t ride well.

“That’s definitely hampering us at the moment to go faster and there’s no real clear direction or solution for the weekend to solve something like that.”

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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