Verstappen: Illness in Jeddah made me feel like “lung missing”

Red Bull's Max Verstappen has opened up on how much he was affected at the Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after suffering with an illness earlier that week.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Speaking in Melbourne ahead of this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, the reigning double world champion said that initially he felt like he was “missing a lung” and admitted that he didn’t feel good in the car from the start of the weekend.

Verstappen arrived late in Jeddah after giving himself an extra day to recuperate at home in Monaco from what was said to be a stomach complaint.

He still managed to finish second and set fastest lap after a driveshaft failure in Q2 consigned him to 15th on the grid, but explained he felt 'really frustrated' at what he described as “one of the first races where I just felt like I was physically limited”.

“I refused to believe it myself for a long time, because at home I was really ill, like I could barely just walk around,” he said of his illness.

“It felt like I was just missing a lung, I got to the weekend really believing that it was gone.

“Because normally when you get sick, like two, three days after you normally arrive, you can just do your workouts.

“But then when I jumped in the car, in FP1, even just one performance lap I felt like I had to recover for two laps to be able to breathe normally.

“So yeah, it definitely did affect me throughout the weekend, which I didn't like, because it was like one of the first races where I just felt like I was physically limited. And that's really frustrating when you're in the car.”

Verstappen said he has subsequently had time to fully recover and anticipates that “this weekend should be alright”.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C43

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C43

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“Since then, I've been trying to work on it, trying to improve it,” he said.

“And I do think that it has improved a lot. So normally this weekend should be alright.

“I think it was just all coming together, and Jeddah is quite a tough track in general. When you don't feel well it hits hard on you.

“But yeah, these things unfortunately happen, that you catch a virus and stuff. Hopefully, from now for the rest of the year it should be okay.”

Verstappen has never bettered a third place in Australia, and retired while running second in last year's race, but he’s confident that in the RB19 which has won both of the first two rounds this season he has the strongest package that he’s ever had for the Melbourne race.

“This track I think it just is the last few years we've never really been that good in the beginning of the year,” said Verstappen, who leads the championship by dint of beating Jeddah winner Sergio Perez to the fastest lap last time out.

“So I think if this race would have been different place on the calendar, then probably I would have had a lot better results here. But that's not how it is.

“But yeah, for sure we do need a bit of a good result there.

“I think we have a good chance, of course, for the result. We do need to execute a good weekend.”

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