It was a good race for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, splitting both the Mercedes cars for a P2 finish. While he never quite had the pace to trouble Lewis Hamilton, he managed to stay ahead of Valtteri Bottas who had gotten off to a poor start.
However, early on in the race, Verstappen seemed to be struggling for pace on his soft compound tires. Things got heated on the team radio as Max was annoyed with the fact that he wasn’t being called in for a new set of tires.
He explained the back and forth that he had with the team post-race, Verstappen said, “I wanted to pit and they didn’t call me. I was massively struggling on the tires and I lost quite a lot of lap time over the last two laps so yeah.
“I already said on the radio, I don’t care if you pit me behind the Racing Points. Because of course, I will pass them easily anyway. We are a lot faster, especially on new tires. So that was the conversation.”
Eventually, Max’s wish to pit was granted. A super-fast 1.9-second pit stop ensued and saw him come out ahead of the two Racing Point cars. His switch to the medium compounds thereafter helped him cross the line in second place.
That result keeps Verstappen 6 points ahead of Bottas in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
The young Dutchman knew that he never quite had the pace to go past Hamilton, but was happy with his result. He said, “As soon as Lewis started to push a bit more, I couldn’t follow the same pace. He just drove off.
“From then on, I tried to do my own pace. (I) tried to just do the fastest strategy I could to stay ahead of Valtteri and I think that worked out quite well today. I’m very happy with that. We split the two Mercs again.
“I don’t think there’s much more I can do at the moment.”
Although the result means that Hamilton moves 37 points clear at the top of the table, the season isn’t over yet. It’ll take something special from Max, along with a big dollop of luck, to dethrone Hamilton.
But don’t completely rule out that possibility.