Verstappen’s mystery pit stop explained

It can get a little confusing in formula 1 when you are at the edge of the limit in a car, switching this on and that off and hearing your team sending radio messages but even still, Max Verstappen’s pit stop on lap 26 of the US Grand Prix in Austin Texas was anything but planned or called for.

Fan watched as the Dutch teen entered the pits and caught his team completely off guard for a pit stop. According to team boss Christian Horner, Max got confused during the race:

“He thought he heard a call the previous lap but got himself confused,” Horner said.

“It’s something that is totally unusual. He just arrived in the pitlane and said, ‘I’m in the pitlane!’

“We’re not very good at fitting tyres when we don’t know he’s coming in.”

Asked what he thought Verstappen heard, Horner said: “He hadn’t heard anything on that lap, so it was basically the previous lap.

“He had been told to push, which was to close the gap to Nico [Rosberg] because we were going to try for the undercut on him.”

However Horner said even that could not have been construed as an instruction to pit.

“It was the lap before, so he would’ve driven past the pits,” he said. “It came from nowhere.

“It’s a shame – a shame for him because his race was very strong.”

It is a shame and it makes you wonder what voices he was hearing in his head that made him think he was due to stop. I’d be lucky to get the car started but then I’m not racing for wins and Max is and I was confused by the pit as were the team.

It must be said that I thought the team did an amazing job of handling the situation and getting his car serviced and back out given they had no warning and nothing ready for him. I mean they did an amazingly good job of it and it’s a testament to that team and just how good they really are.

It’s a shame as Max may have done very well during the race but then again, that’s all conjecture because he ultimately suffered a gearbox failure that ended his race and spoiled his teammate’s, Daniel Ricciardo, race too.

As the AUTOSPORT article points out, Horner felt his radio message a lap earlier to push would hardly be a reason or misconstrued as a call to pit so it’s a bit strange as to why Max actually did pit. It’s not unheard of in F1 but it is unusual in this day and age with radio message at pit confirmation buttons etc.

Given the drivers do press the pit confirmation button each time they are pitting, it is equally strange that he wouldn’t instinctually press that button to confirm. If you’re a conspiracy theorist, perhaps you may gin up a story that Max didn’t agree with his strategy and took matters in his own hand as to when he would pit. Who knows? A strange situation indeed.


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Peter Riva

Watching the TV it seemed they (on screen notice) called for Max to have a pit stop and then suddenly it was Ricciardo in for a pit… could there have been a radio glitch?

Peter Riva

What I also hope if that Ferrari will stop screwing around with Kimi’s career… What the heck happened???? Not even Matchett understood what the problem was.


Richard Porter (the script writer for Clarkson, Hammond and May on Top Gear and The Grand Tour) tweets as @sniffpetrol he has speculated what the conversation could have been.


My speculation, after an amazing season, promoted to RBR, winning in Spain, drinking champagne from Danny Ric’s shoe, Fan driver of the day everytime out, only one award has escaped him………F1B Donkey of the day, so he just went for it ;-)

Zachary Noepe

I dunno, but I agree with NC they sure executed plan B like champs. Nice work.