Max Verstappen has two wishes ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix: to finally be spared any reliability woes, and to see the heavens open up over Spielberg on Sunday.
The Red Bull Racing charger has been on the painful receiving end of more mechanical failures than he cares to remember this season, retiring from four of the last six races through no fault of his own.
Baku was another disappointment for the teenager, forced to call it a day while he was racing at the front when his engine expired.
His first aim before heading to Austria was therefore to clear his head. So how did he do it?
“That’s actually pretty simple. You call some friends and you have some fun,” Verstappen explained.
“And then you re-start again the next race and you try to have a good race. It’s really disappointing but what can I do about it.
“I just have to try to do my best every single weekend and try to finish the race.”
Both Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen have been pleased with the improved pace of their RB13 since it received its beneficial aero upgrade in Spain a few months ago. But Verstappen reckons there’s still a gap to fill with front-runners Mercedes and Ferrari.
“We still need to be faster but we are catching up, which is positive. But yeah, we definitely need to make another step because still in Baku it was a second.
“Maybe it shouldn’t have been a second with all the issues I also had in qualifying but the second sector, where all the corners are, we were second fastest, so I can be a bit positive about that but we are not there yet, so we still need to definitely work hard.”
Looking ahead, Verstappen is forecasting a difficult day at the office on Sunday, but wouldn’t a helping hand from the heavens.
“This is a tricky race for us. Last year it was only Mercedes dominating the field.
“Now there is Mercedes and Ferrari, so it got harder to finish on the podium. You have to be tricky, witty and stay out of trouble – and hope that the engine doesn’t give up on us!
“Maybe the weather will help us. Rain would be super welcome – sorry fans in the grandstands, but a wet race could make our day.”
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