Red Bull’s Max Verstappen didn’t think that the damage he sustained from contact during the Spanish Grand Prix cost him any realistic chance of challenging Valtteri Bottas for second place.
Overall, the Dutch driver felt that the day had gone as well as it could have done – and much better than the way his last outing in Baku had ended up!
“It was a good race. I think the car was handling really well,” he told Sky Sports F1 after the race.
Key to Verstappen’s success was running a long first stint on the soft tyres used in qualifying. They were among the last of the leaders to make their stop and change to the medium compound.
“On the soft I was actually very surprised we could go that long, which was very good I think for our performance in general. Even on the medium I think we were looking good.
“The car was working really well. As you know, it’s really hard to pass but we just stayed close to everyone in front of us [and] we got the luck with Kimi [Raikkonen] retiring.
“Of course I had my little moment with Stroll where I lost a bit of my front wing,” he added.
The contact with the Williams driver came as the field were preparing to get back up to speed after a Virtual Safety Car period.
“I knew we were getting very close to getting restarted,” he recalled. “But suddenly he slowed down, and then with cold tyres I couldn’t avoid him any more because I was just sliding at the front.”
The contact dislodged the left endplate of the RB14’s front wing. Before the race stewards could order him to pit to take care of the damage, the end plate ended up falling off by itself.
“If you have to take it off, that’s quite a good way to do it!” He joked. “It didn’t seem to affect me too much – just a bit of high speed, and braking into the hairpins and stuff was easy to lock.”
- Race report: Commanding Hamilton comfortably reigns in Spain
However that loss of top speed might have ended up costing him a chance to challenge Valtteri Bottas for second place.
“I don’t think it would have given me those five or six seconds, no,” Verstappen insisted. “He was a bit too far away, but I had to keep pushing because I had Sebastian behind me.
“I just wanted to see how my front wing was holding on, but it seemed all right. It doesn’t look as nice, but it’s all right!”
Overall, Verstappen is hoping that Spain marks a new chapter in his season, one that turns the page once and for all on the disastrous clash with his team mate Daniel Ricciardo in Azerbaijan.
Certainly the raft of new upgrades for the RB14 introduced by the team this weekend gave him cause for optimism about the rest of the season.
“It’s never enough, but it was a good start!” he said. “For sure, what we brought all worked so that’s always good. And I think it worked in the areas that we wanted it to.
“Overall a bit more performance, just not necessarily from the rear,” he continued. “You could see the last sector here was very strong all weekend so that’s very positive for Monaco.
“They’re working hard to try and get performance, so we just have to wait and see what’s going to arrive.”
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