Max Verstappen believes that his frustration with finishing in second place in the Brazilian Grand Prix shows that Aston Martin Red Bull Racing performed “beyond expectations” at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace.
Verstappen was on course to take his first back-to-back victory in Formula 1, before a collision with backmarker Esteban Ocon on lap 44 of 71 at Turn 2 gifted the lead and race victory back to Lewis Hamilton. The Red Bull driver closed the gap to Hamilton in the closing stages, as the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport driver hosted a slight engine problem, but could not make up the requisite time.
During the post-race driver weighing procedure, Verstappen shoved Ocon as the two exchanged words. The scuffle saw Verstappen handed two days of public service by the FIA; the pair shook hands briefly after the stewards’ hearing.
Reflecting on a race that saw him utilise starting on the super-soft tyres to get past the soft tyre-shod Scuderia Ferrari pair of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen early on – as well as the equally super-soft equipped Valtteri Bottas – Verstappen thanked the Red Bull team for their work and praised the feeling of the car even with minor floor damage.
“First of all I want to thank the team,” said Verstappen. “The car felt amazing all race, even with a damaged floor towards the end.
“The set-up, balance and strategy were perfect today. To be this competitive at a track we didn’t expect to be is really positive, and makes me look forward to Abu Dhabi. We have come away with a P2, which should have been a win.
“This shows we were performing really well, beyond expectations.”
Giving his opinion on the contentious collision with Ocon, Verstappen ceded that the Frenchman had a right to un-lap himself but criticised the “unnecessary” amount of risk that the Racing Point Force India F1 Team driver took. Ocon received a ten-second stop-go penalty for his actions, which Verstappen believes speaks volumes over who was at fault.
“It is a real shame we didn’t come away with the win due to the incident with Ocon,” he bemoaned.
“Of course a backmarker can un-lap himself but he took an unnecessary amount of risk, especially against the race leader. They gave him the penalty for causing a collision so I think that says enough.
“At the end of the day I am a passionate sportsman that wants to win, this situation is frustrating and shows emotion when competing at the highest level. It is now important to take the positives from the race and the rest of the weekend and carry on the momentum into Abu Dhabi.”