Verstappen still feeling effects of Saudi illness
The 25-year-old Dutchman delayed his arrival into Jeddah two weeks ago due to illness
Melbourne (AFP) – Double world champion Max Verstappen admitted Thursday he still wasn't fully over a stomach bug that hit him hard in Saudi Arabia, but is confident Red Bull will get a result in Australia this weekend.
The 25-year-old Dutchman delayed his arrival into Jeddah two weeks ago due to illness and missed the media day before lining up for the first practice session on Friday.
He battled through the discomfort to finish the race second behind team-mate Sergio Perez after his victory in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix. Verstappen on Thursday said the illness was so bad he could "barely walk" ahead of his departure for Jeddah and while better now, was still feeling the effects.
"I was at home really ill and I could barely walk around and I felt like I was missing a lot," he said, detailing the extent of the illness for the first time. "I got to the weekend really believing it (the bug) was gone ... but when I jumped in the car in FP1, even just one lap I felt like I had to recover for two laps just to be able to breathe normally.
"So yeah, it definitely did affect me through the weekend which I didn't like. It was one of the first races where I just felt that I was physically limited and that's really frustrating when you're out in the car."
Despite improving since then, he is looking forward to the four-week break after Australia and before the next grand prix in Azerbaijan, to fully recover. "A couple of weeks ago I was not looking forward to it (the break) but then I got really ill ... so for me these weeks will be about getting back to full fitness."
Verstappen is the hot favourite for Sunday's race at Albert Park, with Red Bull dominant so far this season, going 1-2 at the opening two grand prix. But it isn't a happy hunting ground. He failed to finish last year when his car caught fire mid race.
"Last year was very frustrating here, being slow in the race, retiring from the race, but I think we also understood quite quickly after the weekend what we did wrong of course with the set-up," he said.
"I think from then onwards it was quite alright in terms of reliability and of course we made big steps with the performance of the car. Verstappen has only ever made the podium once in Melbourne, in 2019, but that looks set to change on Sunday as the other teams, led by Aston Martin, Mercedes and Ferrari, play catch up.
"Of course it was a bit different back then, but I think the last few years we (Red Bull) have never really been that good at the beginning of the year," he said. "So I think if this race would have been a different race on the calendar I would have had a lot more better results.
"But for sure, we do need a good result here. I think we have a good chance for a result, but of course you need to execute a good weekend."