Max Verstappen had little sympathy for title rival Charles Leclerc at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after the Ferrari driver retired from the race with an engine failure.
Verstappen and Leclerc looked set to fight each other for victory in Baku and were on different tyre strategies when the Ferrari broke down on Lap 20 of the race. Leclerc’s retirement paved the way for Verstappen to cruise to victory ahead of Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez and the result means the gap between Verstappen and Leclerc has extended to 34 points in Verstappen’s favour.
Verstappen suffered two retirements due to reliability issues earlier in the season, but the tally has now balanced out with Leclerc suffering his second failure in three races after a turbo issue deprived him of victory in Spain three weeks ago.
Verstappen referenced his own bad luck when asked if he had any sympathy for his title rival in Baku.
“I would always say s— happens,” Verstappen responded. “That’s racing, you know?
“It happened to me, it happened to many people in the past and unfortunately it’s happening to Charles now. If I would be in the same situation I would also be disappointed, I think that’s very normal, but it’s about how you come out of it.
“You always look at how to improve things and that’s what we did as well at the beginning of the season. You learn from it, you don’t like it, you are angry, but you turn it around.
“You always have to stay on it because something else might happen and you have to prevent these issues from happening.”
Verstappen has won five of the eight races this year and has a 21-point lead over teammate Perez at the top of the championship. However, he has only taken one pole position to Leclerc’s six so far this year and said that he still considers his one-lap pace to be his main weakness.
“I think everything each weekend is a bit different, but we know with the car performance on Saturday we are not as quick as Ferrari for whatever reason,” he added. “Maybe it helps us on a race day, but I also want a bit more performance from myself on a Saturday just from the feeling of the car as well.
“On a Sunday it always feels a bit better, but of course there is enough work to do to try to improve the car, but I guess everyone has the same thing. It was a very good day for us today, it is a very young and new car but we will always look to improve.
“At the moment it looks like Saturdays have the biggest room for improvement.”