Verstappen’s engineer set for imminent promotion as ‘Rocky’ departs Red Bull

"Rocky" helped guide Sebastian Vettel to four consecutive Constructors' Championships between 2010 and 2013.

Red Bull’s head of race engineering, Guillaume Rocquelin, is reportedly set to depart after this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix following 16 years at the team.

After four years as a senior race engineer at Newman/Haas in the CART series, the Frenchman joined Red Bull in 2006 and became race engineer for David Coulthard until the Briton departed the sport at the end of 2008.

He began working with Sebastian Vettel when he was promoted from Toro Rosso ahead of the 2009 season, and he oversaw 38 victories for the German, along with four consecutive world championships.

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Red Bull also claimed the constructors’ crown during all of those years together with Vettel’s team-mate Mark Webber, who was the subject of the four-time champion’s neglect to follow Rocquelin’s famous “multi-21” radio command during the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix.

The 47-year-old, who earned himself the nickname “Rocky” during his time at the Miton Keynes side, took up his current position in 2015, occasionally stepping in to supervise Daniel Ricciardo when Simon Rennie was unavailable.

Following a 16-year stay at the four-time constructors’ champions, Dutch journalist Erik van Haren has reported that Rocky will be leaving following the race in Melbourne on Sunday.

“Red Bull’s Guillaume Rocquelin retires after the race in Australia as Head of Race Engineering,” he tweeted.

He added that Gianpiero Lambiase will take the vacant position while continuing to work directly with Max Verstappen, with whom he has shared a solid relationship since the 24-year-old entered the team in 2016.

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“Gianpiero Lambiase is promoted and takes over part of his duties, but will also remain Max Verstappen’s race engineer,” he stated.

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Verstappen ended FP1 and FP2 in Melbourne fourth and second respectively, posting 44 laps in the process.

He said after the second session that the car was “lacking a bit of balance” at the beginning of the day’s running, but became more comfortable after a few tweaks.

“After some changes, the car felt better and more stable after that, so that’s nice. Ferrari seems very strong again, but we are close,” he affirmed.

Verstappen sits third in the Drivers’ Standings following his thrilling victory last time out at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and his late heartbreak in the season-opener in Bahrain.