Max Verstappen hopes taking Honda’s latest update will help cure his race start issues after his poor start at the Belgian Grand Prix triggered his first corner clash last time out.

The Red Bull driver will take on the Spec-4 Honda power unit for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, meaning he will be hit with a back of the grid penalty, as he looks to recover from a frustrating early crash at Spa-Francorchamps having collided with Kimi Raikkonen and the first corner.

Verstappen struggled to get off the start line which allowed Raikkonen to charge past, only to see the pair collide on the inside of La Source, while it marked another poor race start for the Dutch driver this season.

At the German Grand Prix Verstappen dropped down the order having started on the front row, albeit in wet conditions, while he endured a similar issue at the Austrian Grand Prix going from second on the grid to sixth place by the first corner. Ironically, the poor getaways haven’t cost Verstappen too badly as he ended up winning in both Austria and Germany.

But the Dutch driver is eager to get on top of the issue as he explained the problem is caused by too much wheelspin after engaging his clutch as his Red Bull is unable to find clean traction while accelerating.

“We know what the problem is but it’s really hard to solve. Hopefully now with the new engine it will be a bit better,” Verstappen said. “As soon as I release the clutch, the bit afterwards is where we seem to struggle a little bit.

“To compare it to the last few years let’s say if we had a bad start I wouldn’t lose a position. If I had a good start I would overtake someone. But now if I have a good start I keep my position, and if I have a bad start I’ll lose one or two positions. So that’s the tricky bit.

“When I release the clutch you immediately get too much wheelspin. Probably the tyres are being cooler, maybe they play a part in that but it’s not an excuse. Still I think we can do better and hopefully with the new engine it will be better.

“They kept working on it. We just need to see with the new engine on track how it is delivering. Because with the other ones we tested it on the dyno as well and we thought that it would be may be a bit better but still may be not a great start.

“It’s about the drive off the line as soon as I release the clutch, that phase from first to second gear, that is the moment which is a bit tricky.”

Verstappen also felt the problem isn’t necessarily consistent at all tracks, having produced an ideal getaway from his maiden F1 pole position by leading into Turn 1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix, and feels it is more down to circuit and grip levels.

“I am starting 2nd, 3rd, or 4th, the camera is on you and then it looks a bit worse,” he said. “It’s not all bad. We’ve had decent starts where we don’t really gain a position but we are there, like in Hungary, we stayed first.

“Some tracks may be we didn’t get on top of it that well but at the moment it’s just too sensitive for me to find a way to be more robust even with the bad start that it’s still working okay.”



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