Max Verstapen had little sympathy for Azerbaijan Grand Prix champion Charles Leclerc after retiring from the race due to a Ferrari driver engine failure.
Verstappen and Leclerc seemed ready to fight each other for victory in Baku, and when Ferrari broke out of 20th place in the race, they were on different tire strategies. Leclerc’s retirement paved the way for Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez’s victory over Worstapen, with the result that the gap between Worstapen and Lakelerk widened to 34 points on Worstapen’s side.
Verstappen had to retire twice in the first season due to credibility issues, but now that the balance has been struck, Leclerc has suffered a second setback in three races, as his victory in Spain was denied three weeks ago due to a turbo issue.
Asked if he sympathized with his winning rival in Baku, Worstappen mentioned his own misfortune.
“I’ll always say that – it happens,” Worstappen replied. “He’s running, you know?
“It simply came to our notice then. If I were in the same situation I would be disappointed too, I think this is quite normal, but here’s how you get out of it.
“You always see how things improve, and that’s what we did at the beginning of the season. You learn from it, you don’t like it, you get angry, but you change it.
“You always have to stick to it because something different can happen and you have to stop this problem from happening.”
Worstappen has won five of the eight races this year and has a 21-point lead over fellow champions Perez. However, he has only taken one pole position in Leclerc’s six so far this year and he says he still considers his one-lap speed his main weakness.
“I think everything is a little different every weekend, but we know we’re not as fast as Ferrari for any reason because of the car performance on Saturday,” he said. “Maybe it will help us on race day, but I want a little more performance from myself on Saturday, just from the car experience.
“Sunday always feels a little better, but there’s definitely enough work to try to improve the car, but I think everyone has the same thing. Today has been a great day for us, it’s a very young and new car but we will always like to improve.
“Right now it looks like Saturday is the biggest place to improve.”