Verstappen explains traffic frustrations – and why he called Hamilton 'an idiot' – in FP2 at COTA
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was not the happiest driver during FP2 at the United States Grand Prix having had an on-track altercation with Lewis Hamilton and endured frustration with traffic too. Afterwards, he explained why his session didn’t quite go to plan.
The Dutchman, who finished third fastest in FP1 to the Mercedes duo and eighth in FP2 between the Ferrari pair, had a tense moment with title rival Hamilton on track in the second session as he emerged side-by-side with the Mercedes through the final corner and up to Turn 1.
He called the Mercedes racer a “stupid idiot” over the radio and conveyed his anger with a hand gesture too – but cut a calmer figure after the session. “I don’t know, we were all lining up to go for our laps and I don’t really understand what happened there,” he said.
That wasn’t the end to Verstappen’s vexation as he also decided to forgo his short run in FP2 amid traffic, retreating to the pits in dissatisfaction. He said: “In FP2 on the soft tyre, I didn’t put in the lap – but overall, I mean, it’s not easy out there.
“You know, the track is quite bumpy and to find the right compromise with the car hasn’t been easy so far, but I mean there are a few positive things to look at and yes, we’ll continue to work on it also overnight… It didn’t particularly feel bad on the short run. It was just a mess with the traffic,” he said.
Team mate Sergio Perez had a smoother day despite the bumpy surface, finishing seventh in FP1 and improving to fastest of all in FP2 – but the Mexican conceded that Red Bull still had pace to find to be in the fight for pole position.
“Yes, it was a good day,” said Perez. “Obviously, it’s going to be very tight, it’s all about tomorrow, Saturday, trying to put it all together, and trying to find a couple of tenths that would put us in the mix for pole tomorrow.
“It was a promising FP2, but yes, there’s a lot to be done to try to improve the car and I also feel that there is some margin to still improve our long-run pace. So yes, all in all, I think it’s a positive Friday, but we’ll see tomorrow where we end up,” he concluded.
Red Bull have a 36-point deficit in the championship to Mercedes to claw back at COTA while Verstappen hopes to consolidate his six-point lead in the drivers’ championship with six races remaining, starting with this weekend’s United States Grand Prix.