All eyes were on Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen at the start of the Italian Grand Prix, to see how long it would take him to move up the order from thirteenth on the grid. Unfortunately for the Dutchman, fans and spectators, contact with Williams Martini Racing driver Felipe Massa on lap three, stalled his progression.
Verstappen was starting down the order, thanks to a twenty-place grid penalty for changing a number of PU components ahead of the race, and as expected he got off to a flying start, making up a number of positions to reach eighth place by lap three.
It was there the 19-year-old’s rise up the order ended however, when he came together with Massa following an over exuberant passing manoeuvre at turn one, resulting in a punctured tyre and a damaged front wing.
That forced the Dutchman into an early pit stop, and it was always going to be difficult from there on in for Verstappen to make it into a top order position.
“I had a good start, immediately I was between the Sauber cars and then under braking I chose quite a good line, then out of turn two I got another position and it was all looking good.
“On lap three I had a touch with Massa and punctured my tyre so my race was really over. I had to pit for tyres and change the front wing, which meant swapping to a two-stop strategy.”
Never one to give up however, having come out at the back of the field following his unscheduled stop, he then fought his way back through the pack, to salvage whatever he could from the remainder of the race.
The Red Bull’s performance at the fastest track on the calendar was stronger than expected, and by the end of the race, Verstappen had managed to work his way back into tenth place to claim the final point on offer.
However, having seen what team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was able to achieve from sixteenth place on the grid, the Dutchman must have been kicking himself for his lap three misjudgment, having finally got a car underneath him that suffered no reliability problems.
“I tried to catch up and the car was working pretty well, so we cannot complain about that.
“At least we finished the race and at the end of the day I think it wasn’t too bad to end up back in a point-scoring position after what happened at the start.”