Australian GP: Horner responds to Max Verstappen's tense clash with mechanic in Red Bull garage

Smoke billowed from the back of Verstappen's car shortly after the race began

By Web Desk
March 24, 2024
Verstappen's race came to an abrupt end as one of his brakes ignited, compelling him to pit and retire. -Reuters/F1

Christian Horner has clarified the situation after Max Verstappen seemed to engage in a tense conversation with a Red Bull mechanic following his disappointing DNF (Did Not Finish) at the Australian Grand Prix.

Verstappen commenced the race from pole position, poised to claim a 10th consecutive F1 victory. However, smoke billowed from the back of his car shortly after the race began, allowing Carlos Sainz to pass him effortlessly.

Moments later, Verstappen's race came to an abrupt end as one of his brakes ignited, compelling him to pit and retire. Upon exiting the car and removing his helmet, Verstappen was observed speaking animatedly to a mechanic and seemed to mouth the word: "Stupid."

However, following the race, team principal Horner asserted that his driver had been "very gracious" towards his colleagues given the circumstances. He stated: "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.

"It's a matter of understanding what caused it and learning from it and moving on. It's remarkable after three races that he's still leading the championship even with that DNF but, as I say, a lot of lessons to take from today."

Verstappen said the brakes on that wheel had seized up after the formation lap and said the race start had been like "driving with the handbrake on". Speaking to reporters afterwards, he was asked about that conversation with his mechanic and recalled what had been said.

He explained: "That was related to us doing a pitstop while the car was on fire. I was like, 'Why are we doing a pit stop?'" Mechanics had extinguished the blaze and, while they were doing so, the other three wheels were changed. But it was quickly decided that the damage was too extensive for the car to continue.

Now, the standings leader is focused on bouncing back in Japan next time out. He said: "It excites me, in a way, because I would like to win. Of course, we had a lot of good races in a row, a lot of good reliability and I knew that the day would come that you end up having a retirement and, unfortunately, that day was today.

"We just had already a very good run of two years, right? I mean, that's already quite impressive. But of course, you never like to see it happen. But it's more important now that we understand why it happened."