Verstappen brushes off Miami floor damage, but Horner admits it cost him time

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says Max Verstappen picked up damage that hurt his chances of winning the Miami Grand Prix, despite his driver stating he felt no difference.

Verstappen was leading the first part of the race but cut the chicane on lap 21 and bounced over the curbs, taking out a bollard in the process. At that stage his lead over Oscar Piastri was just 3.7 seconds and Piastri closed it on the next lap, while Norris was within 10 seconds of the lead after being stuck in traffic. But Horner believes the damage played a major role in being unable to fend off the McLaren as Norris went on to take victory after a well-timed safety car period.

“I don’t think we had a great balance all weekend,” Horner said. “Obviously, he hit the bollard around Lap 20 and that has actually done quite a lot of damage to the underside of the car so we will have to look at exactly what the effect of that was. But he had enough pace at that point, he was pulling clear of Oscar behind and Lando before he picked up that damage.


“Obviously, thereafter we then pitted and the safety car came out at the best time for Lando, gave him essentially a free stop and not great for us because we were on tires six laps older. With the damage, second place was actually still a decent result.

“We have to congratulate Lando on his first victory. It is always a big moment for any grand prix driver to win their first race, so congrats to him and McLaren. But we still managed to score the most points in the drivers’ with the sprint race yesterday and the most in the constructors’ as well. A very strong weekend for the team.”

Expanding on the damage, Horner says part of the floor was missing following Verstappen’s off-track moment.

“It is a reasonable amount of the area around the left rear floor. There is a reasonable amount that’s missing and you can see it awfully flexing as well, so it certainly wouldn’t be helping.”

However, Verstappen, who was extremely close to being hit by teammate Sergio Perez at the start in an incident that also could have led to floor damage, says he did not notice any difference after his off-track excursion.

“It didn’t feel different, so I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe it was already damaged. I don’t know. I mean I hit that thing and then my pace was the same so I didn’t really know if there was damage.

“I didn’t like it [the bollard], so I decided to take it out and test the durability of the front wing as well. So that’s a crash test done. Yeah, there was no damage. The cone was out of the way for everyone, so it was basically a free-for-all after that.”

Verstappen refused to be drawn into whether he would have won the race had the safety car not been needed, allowing Norris to make his pit stop and retain the lead.

“I don’t know what the gap was, to be honest, before the safety car … I mean, it’s always if, if, if, right?” he said. “If my mum had balls, she would be my dad. So, yeah, I mean, it’s how it goes in racing. Sometimes it works out for you, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Story originally appeared on Racer