16 March 2015
F1 Australian Grand Prix: Verstappen impresses before DNF denies debut points
Max Verstappen silenced critics of the decision to promote him to F1 at 17 by producing a mature, if ultimately unrewarded, debut drive at the Australian Grand Prix.
Any questions surrounding the wisdom of granting Max Verstappen an F1 superlicence at 17 were largely silenced in Melbourne on Sunday, even though the Toro Rosso rookie was denied a points finish.
Having narrowly missed out on a top ten qualifying spot for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Verstappen showed his pace and natural ability by keeping out of trouble and running in the top ten throughout his debut. However, having looked a cert to join fellow STR new boy Carlos Sainz Jr in contributing to the team's points tally – taking full advantage of the carnage that struck the field between pit-lane opening and lap one being completed – Verstappen was robbed of a place in the record books when an engine gremlin struck shortly after his one and only pit-stop.
“A disappointing way to end my first ever F1 race, but there have also been many positives along the way this weekend,” a phlegmatic Verstappen reflected afterwards, “I had a good first run on the mediums - a lot of people around me were on softs and I was still able to stay quite close to them – but, as soon as I re-joined the race after my pit-stop, I saw smoke.
“I reported that to the pit-wall and they asked me to stop the car. It's a real shame, because I was feeling good, the car was working well and, if I had been able to stay on track, I think we would've finished in the points. We've been a bit unlucky, but we need to focus on the positives and get ready for the next race in Malaysia, where I will put everything we've learned here in Melbourne into practice and I hope for a much better result.”
The Renault-powered teams – Toro Rosso and sister outfit Red Bull – both struggled with the power units across the weekend, although Sainz was able to overcome a botched pit-stop to open his and STR's account for the year.
“It's been a very frustrating day for us, as we know we could have done much better,” chief race engineer Phil Charles confirmed, “What could have been quite a good day has been unfortunately let down by a few problems on the team side which have cost us quite dearly.
“For Max, it's a very disappointing day, as the strategy that he was on, starting on the prime tyre, meant that he would have most likely finished in the points. With all the issues we have had, we've given away what could have been a very positive day and it's a shame that both drivers haven't finished the race with the good point scores that they deserve. We know what we have to improve and in which direction we have to work in order to try and avoid that a day like this happens again.”
Verstappen's retirement was eventually traced to a problem with the ICE, which the team will now investigate – and hope to fix – in time for round two in Malaysia.
“We are not where we would have hoped and obviously need to improve further for the next races,” Renault Sport's Cedrik Staudohar admitted, “We will analyse everything closely and come back stronger in Malaysia.”
Click on relevant pic to enlarge
the conversation - Add your comment
Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.