Max Verstappen: “I think we had the race pace and speed to win”

by Megan Cantle

Dutch youngster, Max Verstappen, had a successful weekend, turning 19 on Friday before coming home in second position on Sunday in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull Racing driver helped the team to its first 1-2 finish since the final race of the 2013 season, with teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, finishing first.

“Having both drivers on the top two steps of the podium is a fantastic result for the team,” commented the Dutchman, “I was really pleased about my start, finally it worked well again and put me right up there into turn one.”

However, despite Verstappen’s strong start, an incident involving Sebastien Vettel and Nico Rosberg saw the young driver having to move off the track, losing him position: “I was then compromised due to Sebastian’s move, I had to avoid his collision with Nico which meant I lost a few places. The time I lost ultimately cost me at the end of the race along with a few unfortunate Virtual Safety Cars, but that is racing.”

The race also saw some tense inter-team action, with Verstappen attempting to take the lead from Ricciardo, which ultimately led to some close wheel-to-wheel driving that saw the Aussie emerge just ahead.

“Once I had the hard compound on I was catching guys ahead. The battle with Daniel during the race was great and really good fun. We have a lot of respect for each other so you can see we gave plenty of space but were still able to push hard.”

Verstappen didn’t manage to catch Ricciardo after the double pitstop during the Virtual Safety Car period, as Ricciardo had a pair of completely new SuperSoft tyres, whereas Verstappen had already done a few laps on his:

“I got close to being in the DRS activation zone but my rubber was slightly older and overheating so I just couldn’t get within range and attack.”

Unlike the ‘Multi 21’ incident between Red Bull teammates in 2013’s Malaysian Grand Prix, Verstappen confirmed that there were no team orders that stopped the pair from racing:

“The team told us we were free to race as long as we kept it clean, which we did. It is really nice to hear that from the radio. I think we had the race pace and speed to win today but we have to be very happy to settle for a perfect one-two for the team.”

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