Max Verstappen believes that Red Bull Racing “maximised” its result at the Bahrain Grand Prix with fourth place in an action-packed race for the Dutchman.
Verstappen missed out on an almost certain podium finish because of a late Safety Car that neutralised the last three laps of the race, preventing him from passing a Scuderia Ferrari car of Charles Leclerc that was wounded by an energy recovery system fault.
The Red Bull driver also made contact with his former Scuderia Toro Rosso team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr. in the early stages of the race at Turn 4, but managed to escape with just a slow puncture.
He was in close contact with Mercedes AMG Motorsport‘s Valtteri Bottas for long spells of the 57-lap race, but Red Bull did not have the requisite performance to make its proximity count.
“I think we maximised the result today and it was another good point’s score,” said Verstappen.
“To finish fourth was not too bad as we struggled with pace and rear grip, especially with the high winds.
“I was sliding around a lot so it was not easy and I just had to manage it, but I don’t think we could have done a lot differently.”
Verstappen ceded that although he “drove to the limit” of the RB15, a podium would not have been justified and purely down to the misfortune that felled Leclerc’s victory bid.
In the last five laps, Bottas and Verstappen were closing in on the helpless Monègasque at the rate of seven seconds a lap – the Finn managed to pass the Ferrari before the Safety Car, but Verstappen was not close enough.
The 21-year-old said that Red Bull has plenty to learn about its package before the Chinese Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, believing that the Bahrain meeting was an off-weekend for the team.
“In Australia [the car] was better but here it was pretty difficult,” Verstappen added.
“We were almost on the podium today but it would have been down to luck as we didn’t have the true pace and really deserve it.
“Anyway, it was more unfortunate for Charles, but at least he’s still on the podium and I’m not too disappointed with fourth.
“We still have a lot of things to learn about the car so we will go back to the factory, understand what happened here and continue to try and close the gap in China.
“This just wasn’t our weekend.”