A five-second penalty may have turned Max Verstappen‘s challenge for victory in the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix to a fourth place finish, but the Red Bull Racing driver says his impressive pace was “the most important thing.”
Verstappen qualified third, behind Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton and remained there until the first round of pit-stops under an early-race safety car period.
Verstappen narrowly jumped Bottas in the pits, but was released into the side of the Mercedes. The clash resulted in a puncture for Bottas and a five-second penalty for Verstappen.
Verstappen ran second for the rest of the race, hounding Hamilton, whose medium tyres were fading fast compared to Verstappen’s hard compound Pirellis. With the five-second penalty hanging over Verstappen, and with Sebastian Vettel and Bottas following closely, Verstappen launched his attack on the penultimate lap, making contact with Hamilton.
Both continued, with Verstappen crossing the finish line in second, dropping to fourth once the five-second penalty was applied.
“I gave it my all today and I had a fun race,” said Verstappen. “I think we were very competitive and I enjoyed putting the pressure on and trying to go for the win. You know when you’re up against Lewis it’s going to be very hard but I kept pushing him and I tried to force him into a mistake.
“I made him use his tyres a bit more than he wanted which meant I could attack. At one point I could see his tyres really dropping off and there were a few corners on the track where he was really slow which meant I could line up a move, but we just couldn’t get close enough.
“With a few laps to go, I thought I’m going to try it now and see what happens. We touched but luckily nothing came of it.”
Of the incident in the pit-lane that cost him a shot of victory, Verstappen believes the team did nothing wrong, blaming Monaco’s tight pit-lane for his unsafe release.
“The penalty from the pit stop is unfortunate, but I don’t think the Team did anything wrong and it is impossible to see in that tight pit lane.
“When you look at our pace we were very strong and that’s the most important thing. Of course, I would have liked to be on the podium but I enjoyed the race and you win some, you lose some.
“It’s easy to say with a few more laps I would have got him but I tried my very best and that was all I could do. The Team did a mega job all weekend and we tried everything we could to get that win today.”