Formula 1

Verstappen Heads to Abu Dhabi Still Frustrated over First Lap Retirement in Sakhir

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Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Max Verstappen says his first lap retirement from the Sakhir Grand Prix last Sunday still frustrates him as it was a missed opportunity to race at the front with a car that had looked good all through the weekend.

The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver had looked quick around the outer track of the Bahrain International Circuit only for him to end up in the barriers as he attempted to get around an incident involving eventual winner Sergio Pérez and Charles Leclerc at turn four.

Leclerc earned himself a penalty for the incident, but for Verstappen, that does not matter as his chance of a good result and potentially a victory disappeared.  He was bemused by the way other drivers were being so aggressive on the first lap, and even when trying to stay clear of any clash, the Dutchman was out of the race before it truly got going.

“It’s still frustrating, we had a quick car and I was looking forward to having a good race for the Team,” said Verstappen.  “There were three times during that opening lap that I tried to avoid contact but everyone seemed pretty aggressive and there wasn’t much more I could do.

“I respect Charles as a driver and these things happen to us all at some point but my race was destroyed and that is also not nice for the Team as they also deserved a good result. The grid penalty for the next race doesn’t really mean much now as we can’t change the result but these things happen and we all move on.”

Having finished second in the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Verstappen is ready to give it all in the final race of the year, and although he does not care too much about whether he finishes second or third in the final standings, he is eager to end the year with the best result possible.

“I’m looking forward to Abu Dhabi and I enjoy the track,” said the Dutchman.  “Coming from such a short circuit without many corners it will be good to get back to a more normal track with 21 corners.

“We finished second here last year and we have nothing to lose this weekend so it will be full send”.

Abu Dhabi marks the end of a busy and congested season, and although Verstappen says it has been hard on the drivers to race as much as they have in a short period of time, it is even tougher for the mechanics and engineers.

“It has been a crazy season and we now have one last push in Abu Dhabi and I think many of the team members are ready for a break,” said Verstappen.  “People always ask if it has been a hard year for the drivers but actually it’s the Team that it is hard for as they fly earlier than us and have to prepare everything before we even arrive. 

“It’s been so intense for them and although we all love racing everyone is ready to be with their families and enjoy some time out. Although being second or third in the Drivers’ Championship doesn’t really make a difference to me, we will of course still be pushing for another win.

“As long as the Team are pushing, which you can see from the upgrades and fastest pit stops, then I am of course pushing.”

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Thirty-something motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1, Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula 3. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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