Horner backs ‘crash’ Verstappen to bounce back

Sparks fly: Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen steers his car during the second practise session
AFP

Baku (AFP) – Red Bull team chief Christian Horner has backed Max Verstappen to bounce back to his best after another crash in opening practice at the Aberzaijan Grand Prix on Friday.

The young Dutchman missed much of the morning action after smashing into the barriers on the high-speed street circuit, but recovered to wind up third in the afternoon.

“He’s in a difficult patch at the moment, but I am sure he will come through it,” said Horner.

The 20-year-old Red Bull driver was under pressure after crashing or being involved in incidents at all-three season-opening races -– including a collision with world championship leader four-time champion Sebastian Vettel in China — before he lost control on the Baku street circuit after half an hour.

“It was a bit windier than usual,” he said. “I don’t know, I lost the rear, spun, of course, and I hit the wall. It was a shame. It was a bit slippery at the start.

“I couldn’t catch the car and hit the wall. You just have to feel your way into the track here because it was very dusty and slippery, as I found out.”

He later suffered a minor engine issue, caused by a sensor, but said it will not affect the rest of his weekend.

His crash came when he lost control and spun into the barriers at Turn 5 in first practice. He limped back to the pits.

“We thought we had an issue, but they found out it was a faulty sensor, so nothing to worry about –- all is good,” he said.

His Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who won in Azerbaijan last year and also triumphed in China earlier this month, was fastest. Verstappen was 0.116 seconds adrift of his best time.

After the session Red Bull boss Christian Horner said he believed the young Dutchman would bounce back.

“We know about his talent. I think a result here will just settle him again and then he’ll be up, up, and away.” 

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