Max Verstappen was close to being taken out of yesterday’s sprint race in his collision with George Russell, his team have said.
The pair tangled at turn two on the first lap at the Baku City Circuit. Russell’s front-right wheel touched the left-hand side of Verstappen’s RB19, damaging his floor and leaving a hole in his sidepod.
The team’s chief engineer of car engineering said Verstappen had been lucky to be able to continue in the race, which he finished in third place.
“The physical damage was the bodywork,” he told media including RaceFans in Baku. “Fortunately it missed the radiator just underneath the ancillaries, so we didn’t sort of get punted out.”
While Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull was able to pass Charles Leclerc and win the race, Verstappen was unable to overtake their rival even when the Ferrari’s lap times dropped off.
The aerodynamic loss Verstappen’s car suffered from the damage was “massive”, said Monaghan. “It’s difficult to know precisely – we don’t put a car in the wind tunnel that looks like that – [but on] lap time it was notable, yes.”
“We estimate the balance shift from it, but it’s also a load loss,” he added. “It’s near the middle of the car so fortunately, we didn’t have terminal oversteer or understeer. But the load loss was notable and very obvious.”
Red Bull were beaten to pole position for the first time this year in Baku, but Perez was easily able to pass Leclerc and win yesterday. The team remain confident they’ve made the right decision on their race set-up.
“We have set our car up to do what we perceive as the best compromise for qualifying the race,” said Monaghan. “And we’ll either be proven or unwound today. Your qualifying performance you can distort a little bit if you choose to do so, but it might come back to haunt you on Sunday afternoon.
“This track’s a little bit different from all the ones we’ve been through so far. So I’m not surprised at the steps the others have made and where they are relative to us. As I say, we made our choice.
“We get one go at it on the Friday morning. We stuck with our choice and we’ll either be proven right or wrong later today.”
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