“Guessing And Hoping” – Vowles Quashes Max Verstappen’s ‘Rehearsed’ Mexican GP Start Claim

Published 11/11/2021, 1:55 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Mexico City Grand Prix – Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico – November 7, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton during the race REUTERS/Andres Stapff


The start that Max Verstappen managed to produce at the Mexican Grand Prix ultimately earned him his ninth race victory of the season. And it was indeed quite well-planned from the Dutchman; he waited for a crack on the racing line and the moment he found one, all he had to do was pounce on it.

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Following the race, Red Bull’s boss, Christian Horner, too, reckoned that Verstappen had practiced the line he was going to take at lights out and had even rehearsed it during the formation lap.

But are Mercedes ready to acknowledge it?

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Absolutely not. James Vowles, Mercedes’ motorsport strategy director, denied Verstappen being ready for such a start. Instead, he opined that the Red Bull driver was pretty much playing the game of guess and hope.

What did the Mercedes member say?

During the usual post-race debrief, Vowles opposed Horner’s claim that Verstappen had the start pre-planned. “If you saw Verstappen’s comments afterwards, it is quite clear he was going in there guessing and hoping for the best and it worked out for him,” he said.

Nevertheless, Verstappen was yearning for Bottas to offer him that tiny bit of space on the racing line, and he did. But we can’t blame the Finn altogether, as he was busy trying to cover off his own teammate.

Unfortunately, in the end, not only did he miss out on the win and the podium but also failed to finish in the points for the first time since the Belgian GP.

Max Verstappen was on the racing line: Vowles

Having exposed the racing line to Verstappen, Vowles felt that it was almost impossible for Bottas and Hamilton to come out of turn 1 in the lead.

Verstappen’s start being good meant he was alongside Valtteri very, very quickly. The result of that is they ended up three wide incredibly quickly and early on during the run down to Turn 1,” he said.

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Formula One F1 – Mexico City Grand Prix – Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico – November 7, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen leads the Mexico City Gran Prix in the first lap REUTERS/Henry Romero

Now it was just a question of braking. Valtteri wasn’t on the optimal line, nor was Lewis. The grip on the right-hand side of the circuit is slightly worse than where Verstappen was on the racing line.

Overall, Mercedes cannot throw Bottas under the bus just yet. They need him now more than ever, especially with Red Bull on the verge of snatching the lead in the constructor’s battle as well.

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So, can Bottas shake off his poor Mexico outing and manage to deliver a much-needed race-winning performance in Brazil?

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Rohit Kumar

1413 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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