Verstappen: Aston Martin F1 Safety Car 'like a turtle'

Max Verstappen says Formula 1 needs to look at speeding up Aston Martin’s Safety Car, which he criticised for being “like a turtle”. 
Charles Leclerc (MON) Fe
Charles Leclerc (MON) Fe

Following his retirement from Sunday's Australian Grand Prix, Verstappen urged F1 to investigate the speed of the Aston Martin Safety Car, which the reigning world champion believes is much slower than Mercedes’ version. 

F1 alternates between two Safety Cars and the Aston Martin Vantage Safety Car was called into action twice during the third round of the season in Melbourne. 

Verstappen briefly challenged main rival Charles Leclerc for the lead at the second Safety Car restart following Sebastian Vettel’s crash but complained his tyres were left “stone cold” due to the sluggish pace while the race was neutralised. 

“The Safety Car was driving so slow, it was like a turtle,” Verstappen said. “Unbelievable. With that car, to drive 140 on the back straight, where there’s not a damaged car anymore, I don’t understand why we have to drive so slow.

“We have to investigate. For sure, the Mercedes Safety Car is faster because of the extra aero, the Aston Martin is really slow. It definitely needs more grip because our tyres were stone cold.

“We went into the last corner, I could see Charles understeering. So I’m like ‘OK, I’ll back off a bit more’ and I had a better line. It’s pretty terrible, the way we’re driving behind the Safety Car at the moment.”

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari F1-75 leads behind the Aston Martin FIA Safety Car. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3,
Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari F1-75 leads behind the Aston Martin FIA…

Leclerc, who came under threat from Verstappen after sliding through the final corner at the second restart, said he too felt like complaining about the speed of the Aston Martin Safety Car. 

"To be honest it always feels too slow in the car because with those Formula 1 cars, we have so much grip and it's very, very difficult, especially on the compound we were all on, which was the hards," he explained. 

"I was struggling massively to put some temperature in them, so I also struggled. To be honest, I wanted to complain, but then I checked how much the Safety Car was sliding in the corner and I don't think there was anything more that he could give so I didn't want to put too much pressure.

"For sure with the cars that we have now it's very difficult to keep the temperatures in the tyres behind the Safety Car.”

When asked for his view on the Safety Car, Mercedes’ George Russell, who finished third, quipped: "We don't have the issue with the Mercedes-AMG Safety Car!

"On a serious note, the Mercedes-AMG is like five seconds, a lot quicker, than the Aston Martin safety car, which is pretty substantial.”

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari F1-75 leads behind the Mercedes FIA Safety
Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari F1-75 leads behind the Mercedes FIA Safety

Verstappen blasts “unacceptable” failure

Verstappen suffered his second DNF from the opening three races of the 2022 season after a technical failure on his Red Bull caused him to pull over at Turn 2 when he was running in second place. 

Despite winning the second race in Saudi Arabia, Verstappen now finds himself a mammoth 46 points behind his main rival Charles Leclerc, who cruised to a comfortable second victory of the season for Ferrari. 

“We are already miles behind,” he conceded. “I don’t even want to think about the championship fight at the moment. 

“It is more important just to finish races. Of course, today was in general a bad day again. We don’t have the pace. I was just managing my tyres to bring it to the end. I knew I could not fight Charles so there was no point in putting pressure on him. 

“We didn’t even finish the race so it is pretty frustrating and unacceptable. I knew there was a problem so there was always going to be a question mark in finishing the race. 

“These kind of things, if you want to fight for the title, these things cannot happen."

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne,
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3,…

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