Verstappen dismisses Russell's sandbagging claim


Max Verstappen dismisses George Russell's claim that Red Bull is sandbagging for fear of the sport attempting to rein in the Austrian team.

Speaking in the wake of the Australian Grand Prix, the Mercedes driver suggested that Red Bull is not showing its true potential in order that the sport doesn't somehow try to 'handicap' its advantage.

"For sure they're holding back," he told the BBC's Chequered Flag podcast. "They're almost embarrassed to show their full potential because the faster they seem globally the more the sport is going to try and hold them back somehow.

"Realistically they probably have seventh-tenths advantage over the field," he added. "Max has no reason to be pushing it, nor has Red Bull. They've done a really great job, to be fair to them, can't take anything away. We clearly have to up our game."

However, Verstappen claims Russell is confusing holding back and sandbagging with "pace management".

"We just try to do the best we can with the development of the car," he tells BBC's Chequered Flag podcast, "but it's also about pace management, because we didn't really know - I think no one really knew - how long that hard tyre would last.

"So it's about just bringing it home because we had a bit of pace I think over the others," he insisted, "there's no need to try and gain half a second a lap and destroy your tyres to the end because you never know, a safety car can happen, red flags, like we had.

"It's not necessary to risk all that."

Asked about Russell's suggestion that the sport's powers-that-be might seek to rein in the world champions, the Dutchman said: "I think there's nothing really they can do."

"There's always an element of managing that goes on in any race," added Christian Horner. "Because it was a one-stop race, and a very early one-stop race, of course there was an element of tyre management which was going on, which was what they were doing.

"Checo wasn't hanging about, he wasn't cruising around, holding back seven-tenths per lap, because he didn't want to show it. The grid was certainly a little bit closer here."

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Published: 10/04/2023
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