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How a Vettel decision led to Verstappen's "old married couple" F1 engineer dynamic

Christian Horner has revealed how an interview conducted by Red Bull’s former Formula 1 star Sebastian Vettel eventually led to the successful engineering partnership between Max Verstappen and Gianpiero Lambiase.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, Gianpiero Lambiase, Red Bull Racing race engineer

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, Gianpiero Lambiase, Red Bull Racing race engineer

Red Bull Content Pool

With Verstappen dominating the current era, F1 viewers regularly listen into the in-race conversations between the Dutchman and his engineer. 

But even before Red Bull’s current wave of success increased coverage of their team radio exchanges, Lambiase had forged a reputation for keeping Verstappen in check with a no-nonsense demeanour his driver responded to positively – even teasing back as the final laps of their shock 70th Anniversary triumph played out at Silverstone in 2020. 

PLUS: How Vettel played a key role in Verstappen's Red Bull engineer relationship

Lambiase joined Red Bull in 2015 having previously been a race engineer to Paul di Resta and then Sergio Perez at what was then called Force India (he started out in F1 working for the team’s previous iteration as Jordan in 2005) and has been Red Bull’s head of race engineer since last summer. 

In an exclusive interview with Autosport, Horner explained how Vettel – then engineered by Guillaume Rocquelin, better known as ‘Rocky’ after his own radio exchanges with the German a decade ago gained fame – had taken a key role in ensuring Lambiase signed for Red Bull. 

“GP has grown a huge amount,” Horner said of Lambiase. “GP originally came as a replacement to Rocky, who was stepping up into the role as head of race engineering – the role that GP effectively has now.  

“And he went through a gruelling process that included being interviewed at length by Sebastian to become Rocky’s successor [as Vettel’s race engineer].

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing talks with his engineer Guillaume Rocquelin on the grid

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing talks with his engineer Guillaume Rocquelin on the grid

Photo by: Andre Vor / Sutton Images

“And he committed to join the team and shortly afterwards Sebastian buggered off to Ferrari! So, he came to engineer Sebastian Vettel and got Daniil Kvyat.  

“Who he did a great job with and then obviously when Max stepped up and into the main seat, the two of them built a bond very quickly and it’s been hugely successful.” 

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Horner says Red Bull has “absolutely” empowered Lambiase to be forceful with Verstappen when required in what he calls a “brutally honest” dynamic. 

“It’s his job, he’s the interface with the driver on the track,” added Horner. “Max is a strong character to deal with and GP is equally as feisty.  

“So, sometimes they’re like an old married couple arguing about what channel to watch on the TV, but there’s a real respect and a trust and a relationship between the two of them.”

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