Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team during the Saudi Arabian GP at Jeddah Street Circuit on Thursday March 16, 2023 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Andy Hone / LAT Images)

F1 News: Hulkenberg grins at Verstappen’s Monaco troubles

(GMM) Nico Hulkenberg had to smile in Monaco when he heard that Max Verstappen is suddenly very uncomfortable at the wheel of his once utterly-dominant Red Bull.

“I’m just looking forward to laying in bed,” the triple world champion said after narrowly winning at Imola a week ago. “Maybe take some painkillers.”

And after Friday in Monaco, where his car was clearly outperformed by rival cars – particularly Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari – Verstappen said the bumpy ride had given him “a headache”.

#1 Max Verstappen, (NED) Oracle Red Bull Racing, Honda during the Monaco GP, 23-26 May 2024 Monte Carlo, Formula 1 World championship 2024.

“I just think that Max is being introduced to the world that the rest of us have lived in for the past year and a half,” Haas driver Hulkenberg smiled to Ekstra Bladet newspaper.

“Last year he never had a stiff car. Now he has some of the same problems as the rest of us.”

Opinions are split as to what is going on at Red Bull.

Team boss Christian Horner, embroiled in a scandal that ultimately cost the team the great Adrian Newey, thinks it’s “inevitable” that in the third year of the current regulations, the performance of the teams would ultimately “converge”.

“It’s amazing that we’ve managed to stay ahead for so long,” he said.

Others think Newey’s exclusion from technical meetings is now hurting Red Bull, while Sergio Perez thinks the team may have fallen behind the development pace of rapidly-improving rivals like McLaren and Ferrari.

“We haven’t made a massive improvement to the car yet,” he said, “so they seem to be closing the gap.”

Verstappen was visibly and audibly upset about his performance on Friday, but team consultant Dr Helmut Marko insisted it’s not yet time to panic.

“We didn’t rev the engine to full today – the others did,” he said. “And we improved from the first to the second session, which is something we only managed to do in Imola on Saturday.”

However, Marko also admitted: “Leclerc is clearly the favorite. And the Mercedes also look fast.

“Only Leclerc’s laps are alarming for us. We didn’t use the soft tires like (Lewis) Hamilton, which distorts the overall picture. But it is Leclerc who is significantly faster, especially in sector one.”

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By :