Home Editor Picks Mad Max braces for ‘difficult’ race as rivals close gap; Hilarious press conference mayhem: F1 Pit Talk

Mad Max braces for ‘difficult’ race as rivals close gap; Hilarious press conference mayhem: F1 Pit Talk

Mad Max braces for ‘difficult’ race as rivals close gap; Hilarious press conference mayhem: F1 Pit Talk


Max Verstappen is bracing for a “difficult” weekend at Monaco – a track where Red Bull has been known to struggle due to the high kerbs on the tight street circuit.

He declared that the battle between the top teams has “closed up a lot”, while there was plenty of chaos in a wild press conference as the drivers arrived at the motorsport Mecca.

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Reporter dragged away from Verstappen | 00:32


The last two races saw McLaren and Ferrari take major strides forward in terms of catching Red Bull – or even having better pace than the dominant champions.

But is there now a real three-horse race between the three teams?

Verstpapen said: “I think after Miami, it was quite clear when we went into Imola, it had all closed up quite a bit, even though Imola was probably also not our easiest weekend. But Monaco is always like that anyway … But for sure, you can see it’s definitely closing up.”

Referring to Lando Norris’ statement that he hadn’t completely ruled out trying to win the driver’s championship this season, Verstappen said: “But, you know, if you suddenly start winning, then, you know, it can turn around quite quickly.”

But Charles Leclerc downplayed suggestions of a genuine three-horse race. He said the specific challenges posed by the last two races – and the next two – might be the key reason behind Red Bull’s relative lack of pace.

Leclerc said: “I don’t want to kill the excitement but I wouldn’t jump to conclusions too early. I mean it’s been – the last race has been pretty close, the one before as well, it was two particular tracks. It is also true that the two next tracks are also quite particular, being Monaco and Canada where kerb-riding is so important. And as Max said, it might not show the strength of their car.”


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For Monaco, at least, Red Bull could be set to struggle.

“It’s one of the more difficult tracks for us,” said the 26-year-old Dutchman, who won last Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix by less than a second ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris.

“In the last few years, Ferrari have always been very, very strong here and McLaren, lately, in the last two races, have really ramped up their performance so they are, for sure, ones to watch as well.

“Our car normally struggles a bit over bumps and kerbs,” added Verstappen. “We did work on it a bit, compared to last year, and I think our low-speed performance has improved a little on most of the tracks we’ve been to this year.

“But I don’t think it’s going to be an easy weekend! Monaco is never straightforward, even when you have the best car. It is so very tricky. You need to get everything to work and there is always a lot of disruption.”

Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen attends the drivers press conference at the Circuit de Monaco in Monaco, on May 23, 2024, ahead of the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix. (Photo by Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP)
Red Bull Racing’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen attends the drivers press conference at the Circuit de Monaco in Monaco, on May 23, 2024, ahead of the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix. (Photo by Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP)Source: AFP


The first press conference of an F1 race weekend always throws up an odd question or two, and Monaco was no exception.

Max Verstappen was asked which team he wants to win the Champions League final between Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid.

He initially answered by saying: “My teams are not in the final, so for me, it doesn’t matter who wins the final,” adding he just hoped for a good game and spoke about the emotion of some veteran players playing their final games for their teams.

But the journalist wasn’t happy with the lack of a sound bite, and prodded further.

“Come on, Max,” he asked, “who do you want to win the Champions League?”

Verstappen’s reply was brutal: “I literally don’t care because my team is not in it, so I’m just watching.”

Don’t poke the bear. Or ask silly questions, for that matter.

The drivers were in fine form in the traditional Thursday press conference.Source: AFP

Speaking of left-field questions, the famous Cannes Film Festival is currently underway just down the road from Monaco (and coincidentally, the latest Mad Max film just premiered in Cannes). So the drivers were naturally asked what their favourite movies are – and one took the cake. VCARB star Yuki Tsunoda replied: “I love the Transporter, Jason Statham. I love Jason Statham, so yeah, he’s my guy.”

The action-hero Statham is physically the polar opposite of the diminutive 60kg Japanese driver, but we love the idea of Tsunoda being fond of the 2002 film where Statham played a getaway driver as gifted with a gun as behind the wheel. Luckily F1 bans firearms.

Yuki Tsunoda (2L) has previously been known as a bit of a hothead. Maybe he gets that from watching too many Jason Statham flicks?Source: Getty Images

Charles Leclerc also revealed he was a “big fan, huge fan” of Harry Potter – adding “When I was 10 years old, I knew the lines of the movie. Yeah, of course. Everybody was telling me I was looking like Harry Potter as well”.

That sparked a cheeky response from Mercedes’ George Russell, who revealed: “I have a video, one of the very first videos I have on my phone is of Charles, 2012, with the long hair. I don’t know if you remember, it was in … Ortona? Is it the Italian WSK?”

Leclerc replied: “Yeah, but I’m a bit worried about what you’re going to say next!”

Russell continued: “You put the broomstick between your legs and you’re doing the sort of the wizard (look).”

Other drivers were left in stitches begging to view that video – to which Leclerc replied: “Keep that video for yourself!”

Of course, George Russell couldn’t help himself, immediately bringing it up on his phone and showing his fellow drivers.


It has been another difficult year for Mercedes so far, but Lewis Hamilton is optimistic that the car is heading in the right direction – even if the team won’t be bringing major improvements this weekend.

“We don’t have any upgrades this weekend,” he said. “The package was spread over the last two races. We have our highest downforce package and an evolved wing, but otherwise I don’t know where we’ll be.

“But I am more excited than I have been with the previous two cars. They were not so great. This one is a real work in progress and it’s much better than last year.

“There are so many things to consider – how high or low to run, the balance, weight distribution, cambers and tows. It is one thing to practice in the ‘sim’, but it is only at the track that you discover the issues you may or may not have.

“I hope we just hit the ground running and we don’t look back, but that’s not been the case for the last two years. But this car is more predictable and it is nice to drive. It’s not perfect, but we are going in the right direction.”

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