Loss of Max Verstappen’s ‘fiery passion’ will be key clue to F1 retirement

Martin Brundle thinks he there will be a telltale sign when Max Verstappen is ready to retire from F1.

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,…

Martin Brundle has pinpointed a telltale sign which he reckons will signify that Max Verstappen is “getting ready to retire” from F1.

Reigning world champion suffered his first DNF in 43 races - a run stretching back two years - at the Australian Grand Prix when a brake issue struck in the early stages.

Verstappen was visibly frustrated when he got out of his Red Bull car in the pits and appeared to mouth that something was “stupid” towards one of his mechanics.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner came out in defence of his star driver’s reaction to his rare retirement, saying: “obviously, a driver is going to be frustrated when he gets out of a car from a retirement.

“I think he's been very gracious with the team and all of the mechanics. It hurts everybody in the same way. It's a matter of learning from it. We've had two years with no mechanical DNFs which has been remarkable.”

And ex-F1 driver Brundle reckons any loss of Verstappen’’s “fiery passion” will be an indication that he is ready to hang up his helmet.

“Despite his incredible run of successes Verstappen was initially very angry that his car had failed,” Brundle wrote in his column for Sky Sports.

“When the adrenaline washes away he has become good at managing these moods now, but if he ever loses that fiery passion in the heat of the moment you'll know he is getting ready to retire.”

Carlos Sainz capitalised on Verstappen’s DNF by leading home a Ferrari 1-2 ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc in Melbourne.

And Brundle suspects Ferrari would have been victorious even if Verstappen hadn’t retired.

“The big question is whether Ferrari would have beaten Red Bull anyway,” he said. “Sainz had already overtaken Verstappen but the RB20 was ailing.

“Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull would only finish fifth, some half-minute behind, before the virtual safety car intervened on the last lap, but he apparently had some aerodynamic damage having earlier shown very good pace.

“McLaren kept Ferrari remarkably honest with their race pace suggesting Verstappen would have been right in there.

“We'll never know the answer to the question of course, but my gut feeling all the way through was that it was Ferrari's day.”

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