Max Verstappen‘s recent dominance in Formula 1 has been built on a combination of blistering speed in his Red Bull and his ability to minimise mistakes better than any other driver on the grid, but even the best aren’t perfect.
Indeed, he made several errors at the 2023 Australian Grand Prix including a trip through the grass under no pressure as he appeared to be cruising to victory, though he held on to take the win.
His slam into the wall in qualifying for the 2021 Saudi Arabian GP almost lost him the world championship, but even that doesn’t count as his most embarrassing F1 moment – instead he went all the way back to the 2016 US GP.
“I was in fifth place or something,” Verstappen told Motorsport.com. “And my engineer said ‘push, push’, then you assume that you will pit on this lap and so I accelerated.
“And then I drove into the pit lane, I got to the entrance and suddenly realised that I wasn’t called to the pits at all. They never told me to stop. At that moment I thought: Oh God, what am I doing here?!”
“I said on the radio: ‘Guys, I’m in the pit lane, I’m coming in, I’m coming in’. And at that moment I saw the mechanics running out with the tyres. Of course, the stop then took eight or ten seconds, which was still very fast for that.”
Red Bull have built a reputation as the fastest pit crew in the business while Verstappen‘s been at the team, but their best efforts were ultimately all for nought as the Dutchman retired with a gearbox issue halfway through the race.
However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Red Bull, as Verstappen‘s then-teammate Daniel Ricciardo took third place behind a Mercedes one-two and gave the team a trophy to celebrate.
Marko didn’t care
Things weren’t so rosy for Verstappen, who needed to explain his mistake to team advisor Helmut Marko.
While he’s now the team’s undisputed leader after two world championships and 37 grand prix wins for Red Bull, at that point he was just 14 races into his career at the Milton Keynes outfit and was less than a month past his 19th birthday.
However, Verstappen said there weren’t any issues when he faced up to his error.
“I told him that I messed up, quite simply,” Verstappen added. “And he appreciates it when you honestly admit a mistake. He hates it when people start looking for excuses.”