Who could have envisaged the level of bad luck Max Verstappen would be dealt this season? Following yet another early exit, this time from his “second home” Grand Prix, the Dutchman has little to be thankful for this season.
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) August 25, 2017
He has retired from six of the twelve races so far and every time he has had to park the car, it has been from a points-scoring position. Sitting sixth on sixty-seven points, he has half the tally of his teammate in half as many race finishes, which suggests we would be seeing a tasty fight between the Red Bull drivers this season if attrition wasn’t a factor.
Verstappen was clearly distressed over team radio after he was forced to park the car on the Kemmel straight from fifth place on only the eighth lap of the race, in front of a record-breaking crowd of 225,000 F1 fanatics at Spa, a large chunk of them wearing orange.
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) August 27, 2017
After the race, Christian Horner tried to console Verstappen’s dire situation and said,
“He’s just enormously frustrated, as you can imagine. Once again, he’s in a great position and through no fault of his own he’s had another engine issue.
Sometimes words escape you… obviously he’s had Alain Prost come and apologise, Renault are going to apologise, but it doesn’t change the situation unfortunately.
I think that Renault are quite aware that their reliability and product isn’t where it should be and that’s their business to sort that out.
We’re a paying customer and it’s obviously below par — the service that we’re seeing at this point in time, because of the reliability issues. We’re staring down the barrel at a bunch of penalties at Monza.”
– Christian Horner
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) August 28, 2017
From a selfish perspective that the driver won’t appreciate, the penalties and grid-drop he will receive in Monza could give us the opportunity to see the Verstappen of last season assault the cars ahead and fight his way from the back. But this relies on the Renault power unit lasting race distance, which holds a 50% chance of happening based on this season.
His patience is allegedly running quite thin at the moment, but it isn’t as if there are any other top teams to run away to. Both drivers could benefit from a more powerful unit in the back, and Renault will be trying to find performance in the development race for the rest of the season against Mercedes and Ferrari. But with regards to the number thirty-three car, it’s clear that making it bulletproof is the top priority.