Stuck brake curtails Verstappen dominance

Max Verstappen’s first retirement in two years was caused by a stuck right rear brake that eventually failed at the Australian Grand Prix.

The polesitter held the lead on the opening lap but complained the car had snapped away from him strangely as Carlos Sainz stayed close on the second lap and used DRS to overtake in the middle sector. Starting the next lap, smoke started emerging from the right rear corner of Verstappen’s car and he had to slow, with the brake exploding in the pit entry and catching fire as he returned to the Red Bull garage.

“My right rear brake basically stuck on from when the lights went off,” Verstappen said. “So the temperatures just kept on increasing and until the point of course that it caught fire. It explains it now, having one brake caliper just stuck on. It’s like a 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. I just felt the problem was the balance in the car was off.”

Verstappen says he’s philosophical about the retirement given how good Red Bull’s reliability has been, with his last failure to finish coming at the same race in Melbourne in 2022.

“Not so much [emotion] to be honest. I mean, 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 the laps to the grid. Like I felt confident and like a good improvement compared to what I felt in the long runs when we did in practice. But some things you can’t control.

“It excites me, in a way. Of course I would like to win. Of course, we had a lot of good races in a row, a lot of basically good reliability. And I knew that the day would come that you end up having a retirement and unfortunately that day was today.

“I think we just had already a very good run of two years. That’s already quite impressive. Of course, you never like to see it happen, but it’s more important now that we understand why it happened.”

Verstappen — who says the failure couldn’t be caused by a tear-off — was also caught on camera arguing with a team member in the garage after jumping out of the car, but says that was due to the team’s actions when he got back into the pits.

“Well, that was related to us doing a pit stop while the car was on fire. I was like, ‘Why are we doing a pit stop?’ but that was it.”

Story originally appeared on Racer