Verstappen insists he’s ‘happy’ despite team radio outburst
Max Verstappen insisted that he was happy with picking up second place in today’s Spanish Grand Prix, despite some heated exchanged with the Red Bull pit wall during the race.
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Verstappen started from third on the grid and got a terrific launch to leap into second ahead of Valtteri Bottas, which he maintained to the finish. However there was nothing he could do about the dominant race leader Lewis Hamilton.
“It’s a great result for us to split the two Mercedes cars today after they have been so quick and I’m very happy with that,” he said after the race.
“I made a good start and it was important to get past Valtteri early, which I did. I tried everything to stay with Lewis in the first stint but overall their car was faster and Lewis was a bit too quick today.
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Verstappen had been frustrated when the team wouldn’t allow him to make an early pit stop when his first set of soft tyres started to degrade, and made his feelings known over the team radio.
“How about we just focus on our race, first, instead of looking at Lewis?” snapped Verstappen. “Because clearly on the soft tyre we were not as fast as them. Can we just make sure we do our job and let them do their job?”
After an increasingly testy exchange about tyres and pit stop strategy with the Red Bull pit wall, his race engineer finally snapped: “You don’t need to repeat again … Get your head down Max, please.”
Team principal Christina Horner said that the exchange wouldn’t result in a lasting rift within the team. “What’s incredible is that he has so much capacity to have that conversation – it’s like he’s on a Sunday afternoon drive!
“These tyres were pretty horrible feeling for the drivers today. He’s getting sensitive to the movement in the car, the wear in the car.
“He doesn’t have the whole picture the strategists have,” he continued. “He’s ambitious and competitive and is pushing. You also hear that his engineer is fairly clear with him in terms of instruction and what his job is.
“What we didn’t want to do was drop him back into traffic that would burn up the tyres,” he added. “It was more a matter of keeping Valtteri behind us than attacking Lewis.
“Max extracted the absolute maximum from the car today and to split the Mercedes, which was the faster race car, it’s the best we could have hoped for.”
Once Verstappen did eventually pit, the wait meant he did indeed successfully come out ahead of the two Racing Point cars. Not being held up proved to be crucial to beating Bottas to second.
“From then onwards we focused on our own race and the car felt good,” said Verstappen. “I expected some trouble from Valtteri towards the end when he pitted, but I was happy with my tyres and he wasn’t catching.
Finishing as runner-up in Spain today puts Verstappen into second place of the drivers championship ahead of Bottas by six points, but still a long way off Hamilton.
“Overall, it’s been another strong weekend with a good amount of points which we should be happy with,” he said.
“Second is of course good but that’s not why we are here, we are here to win so you can never be fully satisfied unless you do that.
“At the moment we’re in-between the two Mercedes cars and of course we’d like to push Lewis harder but you have to be realistic as they still have the faster car.”
“We keep trying to improve but so do the others so we keep pushing!”
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