Max Verstappen felt the only bit of excitement he had during the Russian Grand Prix was at the start, with the Red Bull Racing driver jumping from seventh to fifth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Felipe Massa.
From there on all he needed to do was bring the car home, with those ahead of him steadily pulling away from the Dutchman, while those behind were dropping back, meaning a very lonely afternoon at the Sochi Autodrom for Verstappen.
The main threat for Verstappen came ahead of the race, when his mechanics worked hard to overcome a water leak, with the teenager only just able to make it to the grid in time for the start of the race.
“The start was very important today and ended up being the only action of the race for me,” said Verstappen. “I managed to get past Felipe and Daniel and from there on it was a very lonely race.
“I could see the cars in front of me pulling away and I was pulling away from the cars behind so I just tried to manage the car home. After the issues we had this morning luckily nothing upset me or the rhythm during the race so I just had to bring it across the line.
“The mechanics did a really good job sorting the issue in such a small amount of time and giving me a car to complete the race in P5.”
Verstappen feels there were positives to take away from Sochi despite finishing more than a minute adrift of race winner Valtteri Bottas, especially with his pace in the final stint.
“The pace was not so bad in the last stint which is another positive to take away from this tough weekend,” said Verstappen. “Towards the end you naturally start to turn things down on the car to be safe.
“We maximised the opportunities we had so now we can look forward to Barcelona, the upgrades are coming and we can hopefully start to get involved in the fight at the front. Barcelona is obviously a very special track for me following last year’s race so I am excited to return and see what we can do.”