Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen is “very happy” having taken an unexpected second career victory at the final Malaysian Grand Prix.
Verstappen started from third on the grid, though was the second car thanks to an unexpected, pre-race retirement for second-placed Kimi Raikkonen, and quickly overtook Lewis Hamilton for the lead. From there it was an easy cruise to only his second ever victory.
“It is amazing to win the race today. Straight away I could see our pace was good and that Lewis was struggling with traction. I just went for it and used all the battery power I could to get past him.”
The Dutchman, whose appalling luck and seven retirements so far this season have left him nearly 200 points adrift of title-leader Hamilton, said that knowing Hamilton had a title lead to protect helped him find the confidence to make the bold overtake.
“I knew that he was fighting for the championship and wouldn’t take too many risks, so I went for it. As soon as I passed Lewis I knew from there onwards I could control the race.
“The car was really good and our pace on the soft tyre was better than I expected. It was a very physical race and very warm in the car, plus I haven’t been feeling that well this weekend but we managed to bring it home.”
Though it was a shaky start for the Red Bull outfit this season, the team has been steadily improving since the start. Drivers Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo have taken three out of a possible four podiums for the last two races and, whilst it might be too late for Verstappen, and highly unlikely (though technically not impossible) for Ricciardo to win the title, Sunday’s race winner is already looking forward to next year.
“You can never predict how the rest of the season will go but we keep improving the car and it is looking positive. So hopefully from now onwards we can build on this for the rest of the year and then have a good start to next season. I didn’t expect yesterday that we would be so quick today and to win here was unexpected, so I’m very happy.”