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What Caused Max Verstappen to Lose Performance in F1 British Grand Prix

Max Verstappen (Oracle Red Bull Racing) after the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone

Max Verstappen (Oracle Red Bull Racing) after the British Grand Prix at Silverstone

Max Verstappen looked poised to continue his dominant streak during the British Grand Prix on Sunday, but a loss of performance resulted in him conceding to both Ferrari drivers. 

The opening lap of Formula One’s grand prix on Sunday saw two major wrecks that red flagged the race. The Red Bull driver had edged past Carlos Sainz, who had pole, but because the lap was not completed before the red flag, the restart order placed him back in second. On the next restart, Verstappen couldn’t pass Sainz but bid his time, eventually edging past the Ferrari driver when he went wide. 

But all of a sudden, Verstappen lacked grip, and he reported a puncture. When he dove into the pits, the crew found all four tires were fine; however, a piece of debris was lodged in the car. 

The piece of carbon came from an AlphaTauri car, the sister program to Red Bull, from a collision between Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly. 

Red Bull was unable to remove the debris, and Verstappen went on to finish seventh. It was later revealed by team boss Christian Horner that the car lost 20% of its downforce because of this. 

“He didn’t have a puncture. There was no puncture,” Horner said, per ESPN. “He reported it was so bad that it felt like a puncture.

"Basically on lap 11 he hit a piece of debris, which was an AlphaTauri part from the incident that they had, so he then did the race with a modified floor with a piece of an AlphaTauri end plate stuck under the bottom of the car. It stayed in there.

“It’s gone under and wedged itself, almost like a blockage. So it was a fairly heavily modified floor for the rest of the race for him, and he lost just an enormous amount of downforce.”

Verstappen explained, per formula1.com, that the car was “really undrivable,” stating that the debris normally “just evaporates or explodes, but this time it got into the floor and it completely destroyed the whole left-hand side underneath, so from there onwards I was losing a lot of time.

“The car was really undrivable, so I tried to the best I could. And I actually think because of the Safety Car, we gained a few spots, so yes, quite a lot of damage limitation.”

The Red Bull driver still leads the championship standings, but his teammate and both Ferrari drivers are closing the gap. He is just 34 points ahead of Sergio Pérez and 43 ahead of Charles Leclerc. Meanwhile, Sainz is up to fourth, just 11 points away from his teammate and 54 from Verstappen. 

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