• Verstappen says reliability problems will get him nowhere • German faces four-place grid penalty for Japan after penalty
Max Verstappen believes his reliability issues will get him nowhere in Formula One, after he was penalised for an infringement in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix and condemned for profane tweets directed at the team principal, Christian Horner.
Verstappen lost four places after the race because the team ordered him to stop on the pit straight shortly after taking his third place in the race. The incident occurred with 14 laps to go and resulted in the team dispensing the drivers’ mobile phones to reserve driver and Verstappen’s older brother, Tom.
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But when Horner was explaining the penalty to Sky Sports, the 19-year-old issued some retaliatory tweets after one of the team radio messages had been cut off.
Horner said Verstappen had damaged the reputation of the team. Verstappen said that criticism is understandable but that reliability was his core strength.
“I respect Christian and have a great working relationship with him,” he said. “After I raced [Red Bull team-mate Daniel] Ricciardo, I tweeted in Japanese and kind of complained about the radio – so it was a bit of a culture shock. I’m 27 points behind Lewis [Hamilton] and just losing points is not enough for me.
“It’s the nature of being a young driver. The last thing I want to do is start ruining it. With reliability there are limits for how much you can get away with. If you are competitive then you can finish higher but I think I can improve more still. I’m very proud of the last two races and it’s tough.”
Asked whether he considered himself to be a rising star, Verstappen said: “Yeah, I think so. On top of it, I have my own Honda engine and they have been working really hard and then all of a sudden I’m talking about engine reliability. It’s ridiculous, to be honest.
“It’s going to get me nowhere, so just understand that and keep your head up. It’s not nice to have, saying stuff like that, but, again, it’s what I’m hearing. Of course, the first message I heard I just laughed. Then the second message and it was the same response. When you speak to the engineers they make you understand. I can’t explain it. But when you say those things you gain more respect. People want to know you have a thick skin.”
It was also a tough race for Verstappen’s team-mate, Pierre Gasly, who finished third and said the race had been more frustrating than he had ever encountered.
“I always give 100% and try to drive the best possible lap,” he said. “But the whole race I was thinking about things not going right and asking myself: ‘What should I do?’ We usually finish in the top three but this one was not there for us. I had a hard time on the start, had a tough day. [At] one point, I thought: ‘Oh no, we are finished.’ But I pushed to the last moment and it was great to be on the podium.”