Max Verstappen: “It was a very unfortunate way to end the race”

Credit: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Max Verstappen had his United States Grand Prix cut short after a gearbox failure led to his retirement.

The Red Bull Racing driver had been running inside the top five all afternoon but problems surfaced for Verstappen after his second pit stop. Verstappen was forced to pull off the track to retire he was unable to make it back to the pits. As his RB12 was unable to be rolled back behind the barrier, a tractor was required to move the car, and for the safety of the other drivers the virtual safety car was deployed, which ultimately compromised team-mate Daniel Ricciardo‘s afternoon as well.

Verstappen believes there could have been the ability to race Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team but felt it was hard to pass them due to the straight line speed.

“It was a very unfortunate way to end the race, especially as the first part was so positive,” said Verstappen. “I was happy with the pace and I felt good out there, it was a nice battle with Kimi who I was glad to pass.

“I’m sure there was the ability to race the Mercedes today but it is just very hard to pass them due to the straight line speed. I backed off Nico in the end to save my tyres and maintain the gap from the Ferrari.”

Before his retirement, there was a misunderstanding with Verstappen’s pit stop call, with the Dutchman believing the team had called him into the pits, but it wasn’t until he reached his pit box that he realised his mistake as the team weren’t ready for him.

“The pit stop issue was my misunderstanding,” added Verstappen. “The team had asked me to push the lap before so I thought I was going to be coming in. I pitted and then realised they hadn’t actually made the call, luckily it didn’t affect the end result.”

Verstappen had tried to fix the problem with his car while out on track, as the threat of retirement was looming. His mechanics though were unable to solve it and had to retire him. Even with this disappointment, Verstappen is positive to the Mexican Grand Prix this weekend.

“Shortly after I had come back on track I heard a banging noise coming from the engine,” explained Verstappen. “So I pulled the clutch, they then asked me to release it again and keep going so they could try and work out what it was.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t solve it and it ended my race. At the end of the day the race pace was good and the setup felt strong so I am positive and looking forward to Mexico next week.”