Formula 1 will be heading to Monaco this weekend, with Red Bull very much the team to beat based on results so far this season.
In four of the first five races, the Red Bull pair of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have picked up 1-2 finishes, but the Dutchman still has contingency plans to avoid any problems that may surface over the weekend.
Verstappen has a history with red flags at Monaco during qualifying. He was asked about it at a press conference and he explained a clear strategy to avoid any such mishaps this time around.
For those new to the sport, Verstappen has had significantly poor luck during qualifying in Monaco, a trend that started in 2021.
In this edition, Max was on his final run during Q3 before Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc crashed into the swimming pool.
This meant that Verstappen didn’t start on pole, but still managed to win the race through some skillful driving.
However, 2022 provided more frustration for the 25-year-old.
Verstappen was P4 during qualifying, but Sergio Perez crashed while getting out of the hairpin section of the track.
This meant Verstappen was unable to improve on his time and the best he could do during the race was edge out a P3 finish.
Even in that case, his podium finish was a result of Leclerc’s poorly executed strategy.
Verstappen has come with a plan
This time around, Verstappen explained to the media present in Monaco about how he is going to try his best to avoid such a situation with red flags.
“I just need to do a good lap in the first run, I guess (laughs). It happens,” Verstappen said.
Max Verstappen on red flags in Q3 at Monaco:— Verstappen News (@verstappenews) May 25, 2023
🗣️ "I just need to do a good lap in the first run, I guess (laughs). It happens."
"Most of the time it's not on purpose.."
If he had stopped there, it would have been alright. But then again, that’s not really Max.
“Most of the time it’s not on purpose,” he said.
This was obviously a reference to his teammate Perez, who was rumoured to have intentionally crashed last year to ensure he got pole position since he had the best lap time till then.
Even back then, Verstappen was not alone in his theory that Perez had crashed on purpose to ‘sabotage’ his chances on race day.
The Perez quali crash in Monaco with the telemetry.— Ruben Zweet (@RubenZweet) November 13, 2022
Could be true, but still a weird decision from Max Verstappen today. Not a good look imo.#maxverstappen #f1 #Perez #BrazilGP #Crashgate2https://t.co/uceP4IAosS pic.twitter.com/M8oQQOKtwv
Many believe this was the leading reason behind Max not allowing Sergio to pass during the Brazilian Grand Prix, when Checo desperately needed the points in his battle with Charles Leclerc for second position in the drivers’ standings.
As for Max, he had already secured his second successive world championship and had little to gain by stopping Perez even though Red Bull had instructed him to allow the Mexican through.
This is not a new problem in F1. There have been numerous instances of drivers crashing out and resulting in red flags being brought out just to secure their qualifying positions.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown had once offered a solution to the problem.
Brown believed that the driver “should lose your fastest lap time from that session” if one crashes during qualifying.
While this solution in itself could pace the way for plenty of controversy, Max Verstappen would certainly not be opposed to giving it a shot.