Max Verstappen acknowledged a strong weekend for the Red Bull Racing team, but suggested that second place was the maximum he could achieve at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Qualifying fifth, Verstappen leaped past team-mate Daniel Ricciardo at the start before producing an excellent drive en route to second place, his second podium in a row after winning last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
Although Verstappen closed up to winner Lewis Hamilton at various stages in the race – benefiting from periods of lapped traffic – the Dutchman felt he was unable to match the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver for pace in clean air.
“Our car was very competitive in the corners but it meant we lost a bit on the straights and weren’t ever really able to have a proper go at it,” said Verstappen.
“Lewis had some difficulties when he had traffic in front but at the end of the day he was controlling it. The traffic gave me a bit of a chance to close up and potentially have a chance to take him.
“It was a bit of a shame the back-markers came into play but I don’t think it made a big difference, once Lewis had clean air I would have struggled to pass him.”
Verstappen was also keen to look ahead to the United States Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, and is confident that Red Bull can continue its strong recent form in Austin.
“In the race it seems we are always more competitive than qualifying, so I’m looking ahead to Austin and hoping we can carry this form on and get another podium.
“Two podiums in two weeks means I leave Asia extremely satisfied and excited to get back in the car in the US and try and extend this streak.”