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Verstappen set for discussion with race engineer over Spa F1 qualifying argument

Max Verstappen will discuss the heated disagreement he had with engineer Gianpiero Lambiase during Formula 1’s Belgian Grand Prix qualifying, but does not foresee it impacting their relationship.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

The pair had a tetchy exchange at the end of the middle segment of qualifying that Verstappen would go on to top on Friday at Spa, which featured an expletive-laden rant from the driver.

As he returned to the pits having just scraped through Q2 in 10th, Verstappen was seemingly irate with Red Bull’s insistence he went on to complete a full lap at lower speed to recharge his battery ahead of a final Q2 attempt, following his Turn 9 off late in that segment.

Verstappen had wanted to immediately go for a second flying lap in a row following his error, but Lambiase said Red Bull felt his soft tyres would be too hot by the end of a second consecutive attempt and also suggested there was too little time left to then complete a slower lap followed by a final flier.

He was also concerned about the significant track evolution factor overhanging proceedings and with Verstappen’s rivals possibly going quicker while he would have used all his engine’s electrical deployment boost with two quick laps in a row.

Verstappen: “We should have just f****** pushed two laps in a row like I said.”

Lambiase: “But you are through, Max.”

Verstappen: “Yeah – I don’t give a f***, mate, if I’m through in P10. It was just s*** execution.”

Lambiase: "OK, and then when the track was two seconds quicker for your final lap and you didn't have any energy left, how would that have gone down? But you tell me what you want to do in Q3, and we'll do it. Let me know – sets, fuel, run plan?"

After he went on to top qualifying ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by a massive 0.82s margin, Verstappen apologised for his previous comments as he returned to the pits at Q3’s conclusion.

Verstappen: "Oh – nice gap that! Well, at least we had a good Q3. And, sorry GP for sending such a… so long a rant.”

Lambiase: "[I’m] slowly getting used to it, Max. That was eight tenths to Leclerc."

Verstappen: "Luckily we’ve got a few more years [together], mate. So, it’s all good."

Pole man Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, talk in Parc Ferme

Pole man Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, talk in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

When asked about the Q2 incident by Autosport and considering if he and Red Bull could have operated better at that point, Verstappen replied: “Honestly, there is no need for me to comment on that here, I will discuss it with him [Lambiase].”

But he had already insisted in the post-qualifying press conference, “that happens, sometimes”.

“Most of it is normally always blocked off,” Verstappen added. “I think we can both be quite vocal or emotional, but we always solve it afterwards. So, it’s all good.”

The relationship between Verstappen and Lambiase has long been a source of interest in F1, due to the latter’s calm, deadpan approach to dealing with his driver’s often explosive radio messages.

The pair have worked together since the Dutchman was promoted to Red Bull from what was then called Toro Rosso four races into the 2016 season, with Lambiase having initially been hired from the former Force India squad to work with Sebastian Vettel before the German moved to Ferrari in 2015.

Lambiase acted as race engineer to Vettel’s replacement Daniil Kvyat before he was demoted to Toro Rosso as part of Verstappen’s surprise promotion.

But the Verstappen/Lambiase relationship has gained considerable attention during the lifeless 2023 title battle that Verstappen is dominating.

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

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

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

This is because the double world champion is now F1’s leading star – much as Lewis Hamilton previously was and considering how his relationship with Mercedes engineer Peter Bonnington became ever more famous as a result of their conversations being played out more regularly during TV broadcasts.

Plus, exchanges between Verstappen and Lambiase in 2023 – such as when the former insisted on pitting to secure the fastest lap during his Austrian GP domination – have been broadcast with Red Bull having little opposition at the front of the pack and therefore acting as additional narratives when the competition for race wins is currently so poor.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has previously likened their radio discussions and exchanges to that of a relationship between a “old married couple”.

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