Max Verstappen had less downforce than the Haas of Mick Schumacher after the damage he sustained in the opening lap pile-up triggered by Valtteri Bottas, according to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
An errant Bottas piled into Lando Norris’ McLaren at the opening turn of the Hungarian Grand Prix, who in turn was sent into his good friend and former championship leader Verstappen.
It damaged Verstappen’s bargeboards and although his team were able to make some repairs during the subsequent red flag period, he had to take the race restart with a wounded car.
It left him unable to make significant progress and while his chief F1 title rival Lewis Hamilton charged from 14th to third place, Verstappen could only nick a solitary point in 10th place.
Horner compared Verstappen’s downforce level to that of the Schumacher’s Haas – the only team now yet to score a point this season.
“The entire right-hand side of the bargeboard was missing,” Horner told Sky after the race.
“He probably had less downforce than Mick Schumacher today, so that’s brutal for us – but I think the team they did well to get that car back out there.
“They nailed the fastest stop, Max fought for that one point and that could prove vital at the end of the year.”
It leaves Verstappen with an eight-point deficit in the drivers’ championship, having held a 32-point championship lead following the Austrian GP, just two races ago.
A disgruntled Verstappen was understandably frustrated after the race, having scored just one point across the last two races following his domination of the triple-header.
“Yeah, I mean again, taken out by a Mercedes, so that’s not what you want and from there onwards I was missing my whole side of the car,” he told Sky.
“So, it was almost impossible to drive, to be honest. I still try my very best and I score one point, so it’s at least something but of course not what you want.”
Verstappen dismissed the summer break acting as a mental reset, believing that this race “doesn’t do anything” to change his approach or attitude.
“It’s a lot of freak moments at the time, at the moment which cost us a lot of points,” he added.
“So, we’ll see. Of course, they [Mercedes] are very quick but we will never give up. We have to focus on ourselves, we keep pushing and we’ll see where we end up.”
Red Bull has also fallen behind Mercedes in the constructors’ championship by 10 points.