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Max Verstappen explains furious reaction after fans cheer his Australia GP DNF

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Max Verstappen explains furious reaction after fans cheer his Australia GP DNF

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Max Verstappen failed to finish a race for the first time in two years (Photo: Getty)

Max Verstappen insists he was not angry with his team after his Red Bull broke down in the Australian Grand Prix, while he didn’t hear fans cheering his retirement from the race.

Verstappen was looking to equal his own record of 10 consecutive Formula 1 race wins on Sunday in Melbourne.

And after starting on pole and leading the first lap, it seemed the three-time champion was on course for yet another easy victory.

But that all went up in smoke – literally – as after the first lap, the Dutchman struggled to get full control of his car before Carlos Sainz easily overtook him.

Smoke began to pour out from the rear right brake and the 26-year-old was forced to pit and retire from the race after just four laps – his first DNF since the 2022 Australian Grand Prix.

Ferrari’s Sainz went onto claim victory, though Verstappen still leads the championship after three races, four points ahead of Charles Leclerc in the other red car.

‘What we can see so far from the data is that as soon as the lights went off the right-rear brake just stuck on,’ Verstappen said, explaining what went wrong.

‘It just caused the damage and it kept on increasing so it was also basically driving with the handbrake on.

‘That’s why the car felt really weird to drive in some corners, just very snappy, while the laps to the grid the car was really spot on and I was happy with what we were doing. But if a brake is stuck on it doesn’t help.’

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While undoubtedly a disappointment, Verstappen’s angry reaction was notable given that this is such a rare blip for Red Bull and amid tensions in the team that have been heightened by the Horner scandal.

The driver was caught saying something was ‘stupid’ immediately after jumping out of his car, though he clarified what this was about later on: ‘Well, that was related to us doing a pitstop while the car was on fire. I was like, “Why are we doing a pit stop?”.’

Given how his recent domination has made F1 boring, it was understandable why cheers could be heard from the Australian crowd as Verstappen’s car slowed to a halt but he cared not, jokingly adding: ‘I have a helmet on so I don’t hear that!

‘I’m disappointed with not being able to finish the race because I think we would have had a good shot at winning because the balance felt quite nice on the laps to the grid.

‘Like I felt confident and a good improvement compared to what I felt in the long runs when we did in practice. But yeah, some things you can’t control.

‘Of course, we had a lot of good races in a row, a lot of good reliability and I knew that the day would come that you end up having a retirement and, unfortunately, that day was today.

‘We just had already a very good run of two years, right? I mean, that’s already quite impressive. But of course, you never like to see it happen. But it’s more important now that we understand why it happened.’

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