Max Verstappen admitted that he was “disappointed with [himself]” after a Chinese Grand Prix in which he received a ten-second penalty for a collision with Sebastian Vettel.
Verstappen was having a relatively quiet race, until a safety car on lap thirty-two offered him the opportunity to try an aggressive – and potentially lucrative – strategy. Swapping onto fresh Soft tyres just as the safety car was joining the track, and with others opting to stay on older tyres, both he and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team-mate Daniel Ricciardo had the chance to make up ground.
At the safety car restart Verstappen, the first of the two drivers, started to make his way up through the field, though ran off the track whilst attempting a daring overtake around the outside of Lewis Hamilton. Not only did he lose time, he lost a position to eventual-winner Daniel Ricciardo – a win that could very much have been his.
Later in the race and whilst trying to make the most of his fresher tyres, Verstappen made a lunge at Vettel at turn fourteen – only to make contact with the German and cause both of them to spin. This dropped Vettel down to an eventual eighth, and earned Verstappen a ten-second penalty.
Speaking after the race Verstappen reflected on a missed opportunity, and thanked the team for a potentially race-winning strategy.
“Not the result I wanted today, we missed a great opportunity for a double podium. I tried to pass Lewis on the outside but there were too many marbles and I went a bit wide, it was a shame as I was in a good position but ended up losing a position to Daniel.
“It was still an open race with the possibility to finish first and second but unfortunately I made some mistakes.
“Seb was struggling a bit on the tyres so I knew I had an opportunity, I tried to take him on the inside but locked the rears and ended up hitting him. I am disappointed with myself that this is the outcome of the race.
“The team executed everything perfectly today, we had a great strategy and the car was behaving well so it is a real shame. It isn’t going my way at the minute so I’ll go away and analyse this and hopefully come back stronger. A massive well done to the team on such a strong weekend and of course to Daniel on the race win.”