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Formula 1 Italian GP

Verstappen: Working with new performance engineer is “incredible”

Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen says it took time to adjust to working with a new performance engineer in 2023 – but now they have gelled their relationship is “incredible”.

Pole man Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, in Parc Ferme

From the start of this season, Verstappen has worked with Richard Cooke, who joined Red Bull from university in 2017 and was moved across from the simulator group to fill the race team role on a temporary basis.

As performance engineer Cooke supports race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase, with the pair forming a close-knit three-man team with Verstappen himself.

The job focuses on the car systems, such as optimising the differential settings and brake balance around the driver’s preferences, while Lambiase looks at the bigger picture.

Verstappen admitted that having a different face in his immediate circle on race weekends required some getting used to.

“This year I've been working because of circumstances with a new performance engineer from basically the start until now,” said the Dutchman.

“And also that takes a bit of time to gel, and I have to say I'm really proud of the job that he has done to jump in and take the job on, and what we have achieved. It's incredible and really enjoyable to work with him.

“But it's like anything, when you have someone new in your team, to really get this good understanding of what we need from each other, also took a little bit of time.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

“So it was just his natural transition over time when then suddenly we really understood what we needed from each other.

“And, yeah, now that he's done quite a few more races as well, I think he is doing an amazing job, and it's not easy to jump in like that.”

Verstappen says that working with a new engineer also contributes to the big picture of always trying to improve the package.

“And this is, again, continuous with the car as well, you keep on analysing every single detail," he said.

"Also for the new car the next year or the year after, what do you need? Should we look into these certain areas? What we can improve? And yeah, it's just basically a continuous output."

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Asked if the team has improved the ride of the RB19 for bumpy street tracks like Singapore, he said: "For sure we try to improve everything we can, but some things of course, they might only be fixed for next year.

“And yeah, I do think that Singapore probably is a little bit more difficult than Spa, Zandvoort, or any of these kinds of tracks."

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