Max Verstappen started and finished fifth in the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, with the Dutchman only having one real opportunity to make up a position at the start.
The Red Bull Racing driver had a sniff of jumping Kimi Raikkonen heading into turn one, but the Scuderia Ferrari driver was able to hold off the nineteen-year-old, and from there on Verstappen was unable to make another move, even if he was closer to both Ferrari and the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team than he was expecting to be at the end of the Grand Prix.
“The start was really good but it was just a shame that out of turn one I had dirty air ahead of me, this allowed Kimi to stay on the outside and get in front of me again,” said Verstappen. “From then on the pace wasn’t too bad, I could follow him pretty well which was a nice surprise and I had no pressure from behind me.
“It was positive to see we weren’t that far off Ferrari and Mercedes over a full race distance, this was a concern this morning but I’m relieved now to finish within touching distance.”
Verstappen admitted it was difficult to follow another car even with the new regulations that were designed to make that aspect of the sport easier, with his tyres fading too quickly, although he was happy with the way he felt physically at the end of the race after concerns up and down the grid that drivers could suffer with the extra forces being put their bodies.
“Physically I feel fine, you have to fight the cars a bit but to be honest I feel better than I did last year after race distance,” said the Dutchman. “The car behaved and handled quite a bit better than in qualifying.
“It was hard to follow and drive close behind others, I think as soon as you get within two seconds you can really feel it and could destroy your tyres.
“Looking ahead to China I think we need to keep working hard on the car, race pace was good but you can still see we are not quick enough in certain situations.”