‘He's like my little brother’ – Lambiase reveals when bond with Verstappen was ‘cemented’ after ‘a few ups and downs’
Max Verstappen and Gianpiero Lambiase have become the driver/race engineer partnership to beat in F1, with the pair having worked together to net the last three drivers’ championships in a row. But it hasn’t always been plain sailing between the two, as they recently revealed.
Over the years, F1 fans have become used to hearing the antagonistic banter between the deadpan Lambiase and his occasionally fiery Dutch charge. But although sometimes the exchanges between the pair may not have sounded overly friendly, a difficult period between Verstappen and Lambiase a few years ago, followed by Verstappen’s maiden title triumph, ensured they developed a brother-like bond, as they explained on Red Bull’s Talking Bull podcast.
“We know each other inside out and we know what triggers the other one, or how to perhaps coax or put the arm around the other one’s shoulder,” said Lambiase. “I think we know how to manage ourselves out of a difficult situation and also enjoy the better situations.
“But I think, perhaps until three years ago, I think perhaps ’18, ’19, ‘20 when the car wasn't quite as competitive as we, the team, would have liked, but I think especially Max [would have liked] – because at that point, you could see his frustration coming through already that he wasn't able to compete for championships at that point – and we had a few ups and downs, I would say in that period, the middle third, fourth, fifth years.
“But I think 2021 was so intense, I think... the relationship and the bond was cemented that year, and then last year and this year's just been a continuation of that. And yeah, I see him as my little brother.”
“You spend so much time together,” added Verstappen. “I started at the team at 18 years old. I'm 26 now. So also I think as a person I've grown a lot. So when I look back at those kinds of images from the first few races I did with the team, I'm like ‘oh my God’. It's very different. Also in my behaviour; I think it's only natural that the connection, and just me also growing up more, I think that helps a lot in your relationship.”
Meanwhile the pair revealed that they had no plans to end their current period of dominance – with Verstappen having assured himself of netting statistically F1’s most dominant season ever after his win in Sao Paulo last weekend.
“I would get bored not winning,” said Verstappen. “This is much better. This motivates me every single day, to come back here at the factory, to prepare for the next races. But also once you're there, it's the best feeling out there. So for me, it's not boring at all.”
“[I was asked] for one word to describe Max and I think the word was ‘insatiable’,” added Lambiase, “which I think goes for me as well, in that no matter how many races we win or how many championships we have won or could win, I think the point is, I don't think we're ever happy and our bar is so high.
“I'd say we're both perfectionists in that respect, in that nothing is ever good enough. And I think that's what really motivates us to just keep doing what we're doing, following the process and achieving the best that we can.
“My biggest fear is the moment that we do have increased competition and we're not winning every race,” added Lambiase, “because you see how he's treating me at the moment – and he's winning every race!”