In 2015, it was Kimi Raikkonen. In 2016, it was Lewis Hamilton. But, hands down, the most unlucky Formula One driver throughout 2017 has been Max Verstappen.
Red Bull Racing’s two drivers had dramatically different races Sunday, with Daniel Ricciardo landing on the podium for the sixth time this season while Verstappen failed to complete a single stint. The juxtaposition of Ricciardo and Verstappen’s results has become a common theme throughout the 2017 season, and we might now know why.
WTF1 posted a tweet after the Belgian Grand Prix, revealing that the Dutchman’s recent string of failures could be explained by a picture that Red Bull posted ahead of this year when it revealed its 2017 challenger. The car, dubbed the RB13, got its name because it is the 13th car Red Bull has produced since joining F1, but the team used the name as a theme in its preseason marketing.
Given that 13 is thought of as unlucky, Red Bull decided to steer into the skid when showcasing the car, using the tagline “RB13 Unlucky For Some.” Unfortunately for Verstappen, the team’s decision to mock superstition seemingly has come back to bite him.
The 19-year-old’s race at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps was cut short Sunday, with his RB13 ground to a halt after just seven laps, marking Verstappen’s sixth DNF of 2017. His retirement likely was the most demoralizing yet, though, as it came in front of his home crowd, and during the first race since F1’s summer break.
Verstappen was hoping Red Bull could sort out its reliability issues — which occur more frequently on Verstappen’s car, as Ricciardo has only three DNFs this year — for the second half of the season, but his result in Belgium now has he and his father, Jos, questioning whether staying at Red Bull will be the best decision for his future.
Thumbnail photo via Red Bull Racing