Max Verstappen talks how it felt in the car before his F1 Australian GP retirement, as Christian Horner expands on situation.

It started off on a good note for Red Bull’s Verstappen on Lap 1 when he stretched out a good enough lead from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz. But it was short-lived as already from Lap 2 onward, the Dutchman started to have moments and lose out a bit.

He eventually lost the lead to Sainz and couldn’t make a come back as smoke started to blew from the rear of the car. No one could understand the issue until he dived into the pitlane as fire started blowing from the rear left brake.

Verstappen noted about his brakes getting stuck since the start of the grand prix. “My right rear brake basically stuck on from when the lights went off, so the temperatures just kept on increasing and until the point of course that it caught fire,” he said to media. “It explains it now having one brake caliper, it stuck on, it just like handbrake.

“I had that moment of course after the first lap, but then already the temperature was increasing and increasing, so it just works like a handbrake. But of course, I didn’t know that stuff was happening. It just felt the problem was the car balance was off. [The team] could see what was going on, but they don’t know what caused it,” summed up Verstappen, who was relatively calm even though he was disappointed.

On the statistic side, he was going to equal his own consecutive win record of 10 had he won in Australia – carrying on from 2023. Also, the last time he had a DNF on mechanical grounds came at the same venue in the Australian GP in 2022 which was 43 races ago.

“It excites me in a way, but of course I’d like to win,” said Verstappen. “Of course, we had a lot of good races in a row, a lot of basically good reliability and I knew the day would come that you end up having a retirement and unfortunately that day was today. We just had already a very good run of two years so that’s already quite impressive.

“Of course, you never liked to see it happen but it’s more important now that we understand why. I’m disappointed with not being able to finish the race because I think we would have had a good shot at winning. The balance felt quite nice on that laps to the grid and I felt confident and like a good improvement compared to what I felt in the long runs that we did in practice.

“But yeah, some things you can’t control,” summed up Verstappen. Red Bull chief Horner expanded further on the whole situation. He noted how they were gearing up to see the improvements they made since the struggles from Friday and fight against Ferrari.

“I think we can see there has been an issue where the caliper has created the brake tub to bind on and that’s happen at the very start of the race, so the heat building and then I think as early as the second lap, it was like Max has got a handbrake at Turn 3 – he had a moment there,” said Horner to media. “Then another that allowed Carlos to pass.

“He was then lining up to have a go back and then another moment and then we started to see the smoke and then the fire. It is frustrating that it is our first mechanical DNF since actually this race two years ago, so in one that is a testament to the strength and design of the car but obviously frustrating to have a zero point score when we are fighting at the front of the field.

“I think we did struggle on Friday, I thought the team did a great recovery and Max did a stunning job in qualifying. We started to work out the issues and certainly on the laps to the grid, we did around four laps and he was reporting that he was quite happy with the balance of the car. So, we never got to see the answers that have we solved those issues.

“I think it is undeniable that Ferrari has been strong this weekend, congratulations to Carlos on losing an appendix and winning very dominantly here. Obviously frustrating to be out on Lap 4 with Max,” summed up Horner, who clarified that the change of power unit for Verstappen was precautionary after his kerb hit on Friday.

He also had praise for Verstappen and his handling of the retirement. “We changed [the engine], just as a precaution really, he had a big hit on Friday,” said Horner. “So, we just wanted to avoid a DNF (laughs). As for Max, he was very good, he was very gracious with the team. He was very supportive.

“He came over the pitwall and he was fine about it. Obviously, we were trying to understand when he came in the pitlane, what was it. Was it race retiring incident? Which it clearly was, as soon as it was clear when there was no what we call caped in covers that covers the rear brake and then it was just making sure to get the fire under control.

“I mean, as he pointed out to me, it was Australia 2022 that he last had a DNF due to mechanical failure. So that is an impressive record but doesn’t give excuses for today and something that we learn from. It shows how measured…you win as a team and you lose as a team,” summed up Horner.

Here’s what happened with Max Verstappen:

Here’s how F1 Australian GP panned out

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