Max Verstappen's embarrassing slip-up may have cost him a podium finish. Picture: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Max Verstappen's embarrassing slip-up may have cost him a podium finish. Picture: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

‘S---’: Verstappen’s double-blunder

MAX Verstappen was stuck in the wrong engine mode for most of the Monaco Grand Prix after a pit-stop brain fade early in the race, it has been revealed. reports the Dutch star simply failed to follow team orders as he exited from his only pit stop of the race - and the blunder may have cost him a spot on the podium.

Verstappen stalked championship leader Lewis Hamilton in the back end of the race and threatened to steal the  lead, despite a five-second pit lane penalty hanging over his head.

The penalty dropped Verstappen from second to fourth in the official race results - but it remains Verstappen's best weekend in Monaco as a complete driver.

It could have been so much better.

The report claims Verstappen was stuck in the wrong engine torque mode for more than 60 laps.

The Red Bull star had his engine cranked to an explosive setting of "Torque 12" at the start of the race - with the jump off the line so vital on the impossible-to-pass Monte Carlo circuit.

He was instructed to change the setting to torque level six during his only pit stop for fresh tyres but, in a mad rush to sneak ahead of Mercedes rival Valtteri Bottas in pit lane, Verstappen forgot to dial back the engine performance setting.

That left him on the higher performance, reduced durability setting for his entire second stint behind Hamilton.

Verstappen's decision to pull out in front of Bottas earned him an "unsafe release" penalty after he made contact with the front of the Mercedes. It's why the torque setting error was briefly forgotten.

It didn't take him long to realise the mistake.

"S---, I didn't do the torque," he said over the team radio.

The team tried to find ways to smooth out the issue, but were helpless because the torque setting can only be changed in a stationary position.

Verstappen admitted to having a lengthy discussion with his team about what could be done to reverse the mistake.

"Once on track you're stuck with it and we only did one stop," he said.

"Normally I would always go back, but of course with the touch, looking in the mirror all the time, and then I think the team were also a little bit shocked with the whole thing, they were also checking for damage.

"Normally they remind me, but obviously it's my job to still do it. I also forgot with all the hectic scenarios."

Sky Sports reported that Verstappen's penalty, which cost him a podium, had energised him in his engrossing battle with Hamilton.

Stewards ruled the Red Bull "had the opportunity to avoid the contact, contributing to the unsafe release".

From there, Verstappen found himself in the curious position of being boxed in between three cars - behind Hamilton, who was preserving his tyres, and ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Bottas - knowing that his fate was sealed unless he overtook the Mercedes.

"It fired me up," Verstappen told reporters.

"As soon as I heard the penalty I was just pushing Lewis really hard because initially he was driving so slow.

"Then I heard I had the penalty so I just kept pushing him. Then of course he had to push because I would attack him, then he destroyed his tyres.

"So that was my only way of trying to get by."

On harder and more durable tyres, Verstappen increasingly ran within one second of Hamilton as the race wore on and although Verstappen could get close to the back of the Mercedes, particularly at the hairpin, the world champion pulled away on the straights.

Verstappen's one half-chance came at the harbour-side chicane with two laps to go, but the pair made contact and Hamilton stayed ahead.

"I couldn't really plan because I was always so close out of the hairpin, but out of Turn Eight I just lost that momentum," Verstappen said.

"At one point I was like 'OK,  let's have a go and see what happens', then we had this little touch. Under braking you don't look in your mirrors already and, anyway, they are difficult to see through. I think there was no one to blame and we didn't have any real damage."

Verstappen believed the incident with the other Mercedes, which led to his penalty, was "just unfortunate" as Red Bull had released him from the pit lane.

"I didn't know there was anyone next to me because they released me and of course it was all getting a bit tight," he said.

"We were ahead, it's a shame that we touched. But I couldn't see him."

News Corp Australia

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