Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s weekend around the Nürburgring was one of stark contrast, with Max Verstappen continuing his podium streak, providing he sees the chequered flag of course. Out of the eleven races of 2020, the Dutchman has retired three times but finished on the podium it every other race he’s competed in!
On the other side of the garage Alexander Albon’s struggle’s continued after contact with Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda’s Daniil Kvyat led to a pierced radiator and his retirement. Albon’s retirement also meant a golden chance to gain some points on the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team went begging.
After the retirement of Valtteri Bottas, Verstappen found himself in second place at the chequered flag, just under five seconds behind race winner Lewis Hamilton, with the flying Dutchman also able to secure an extra point for fastest lap. The Dutchman seemed upbeat after the race and felt he had maximized the cars performance.
“Overall, it was a positive weekend and I think we can be very pleased with another second place,” said Verstappen. “I tried to keep as close as possible to Lewis during the race and we just didn’t quite have the pace to fight him but overall I was pleased with the performance.
“We have taken a step forward with the car this weekend, so I am of course happy with that, but we still need to improve and we will keep pushing so we can take the fight to Mercedes every weekend.”
Team Principal Christian Horner echoed Verstappen’s thought and also sang his rising stars praises.
“It is fantastic to see Max on the second step of the podium again with yet another stellar drive and we do seem to be a small step closer in the fight with Mercedes this weekend,” said Horner. “Max was able to keep within striking distance of Lewis for the entire race.”
However, Horner also noted had Mercedes not has dual axis steering (DAS) he felt Verstappen could have been on the top step of the podium.
“Because the Safety Car was out for so long the tyre temperatures plummeted which Lewis, with the DAS system, was able to handle a little better than we were,” added Horner. “Max managed the tricky re-start well and from there it was a pretty straight forward race to the finish for second place.”
Verstappen also felt the cold temperatures at the Nürburgring prevented him from warming up his tyres enough prior to the late restart, which left him unable to get close to Hamilton.
“The Safety Car re-start was not easy with the cold temperatures and the tyres, especially with the others behind having a bit of a temperature advantage after catching up to us, but I managed to keep them behind and pull away again with Lewis,” said the Dutchman.
“I’m of course also happy with the point for the fastest lap which was an extra bonus.”
Albon Takes the Blame for Kvyat Contact
Albon’s race was not one he will want to remember, with contact with Kvyat being followed by almost hitting the other AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly as the two fought over position. He earned himself a time penalty for the Kvyat incident, but he was unable to serve the penalty as Red Bull retired his car due to a damaged radiator and rising temperatures.
Despite his troubles, Albon noted the cars pace even with his retirement, but did note flat spotted tyres were a hindrance to him after locking up on the opening lap heading into turn one.
“The pace in the car was good today so it’s a shame to have a result like this and not see where we could have finished the race,” said Albon. “I had a lock-up avoiding contact on the first lap which meant I had to pit really early because I had severe vibrations from a flat spot on the tyre.”
Talking of his contact with Kvyat, Albon took the blame, feeling it was a misjudgement on his side that caused him to wipe out the Russian’s front wing heading towards the final turn.
“I don’t really know what happened with Daniil and I need to watch it back,” said Albon. “I think he may have run a little wide into the chicane when we did the re-start and I guess it was a bit of misjudgement from my side.
“After that, the Team saw the temperatures rising and I was asked to box and then retire the car. It initially looked like a power unit issue from the data, but the Team investigated and found that some debris had pierced the radiator system which led to the rising temperatures.
“It is definitely not the way I wanted to end the weekend as the car felt good, but onwards and upwards and I’m looking forward to Portimao in a few weeks’ time.”
Horner believed Albon was unfortunate that debris damaged his radiator, with the Team Principal feeling he was making good progress back through the field after his earlier-than-planned pit stop left him embroiled in traffic.
“Alex’s day was far from simple with a big lock-up into Turn three on the opening lap causing us to pit him early as the vibrations took us close to the safety threshold,” said Horner.
“He was then making good progress back through the field but was incredibly unlucky to pick up some debris, which pierced the radiator, causing his engine temperatures to rise which unfortunately forced us to retire him.”
Horner also congratulated the Renault DP World F1 Team, former driver Daniel Ricciardo and their Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul after the Australian was able to join Hamilton and Verstappen on the podium.
“Our congratulations also go to Renault, Daniel and Cyril for the podium today and now I think we are all intrigued to see what tattoo Daniel chooses for Cyril!”