Max Verstappen said it was pleasing to be able to keep Charles Leclerc in sight of him for much of the French Grand Prix on Sunday, although he suffered with late-race tyre degradation as a result of attempting to match the pace of the Scuderia Ferrari driver.
Verstappen was happy to be able to keep the second Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel behind him to finish fourth at the Circuit Paul Ricard on what was often a lonely race for the Red Bull Racing driver, but despite the loneliness he insisted it was not a boring afternoon for him as he wanted to see just how much he could push and how fast he could go.
“The race was a bit lonely at times but it wasn’t boring as I had Charles in sight which was good motivation to keep trying to match his lap times,” said Verstappen. “You have to keep pushing yourself even if there aren’t cars that you are directly fighting.
“I always want to see how fast we can go and push as much as possible. In the second stint, we were looking quite good but with six or seven laps to go I ran out of rear grip and I couldn’t really rely on the rear tyres anymore.
“I think it took a bit too much out of my tyres trying to keep up with Charles early in the race but I’m pleased to be in front of one Ferrari and finish fourth on a track that doesn’t really suit us.”
Verstappen says that whilst the target is always to win, maximising the package they have was good, and he felt the team made another small step forward in their bid to give Honda their first victory in Formula 1 since they returned to the sport. However, he knows there is work to do if they are to become genuine contenders for race victories in 2019.
“The target is always to win but it was not possible here today and I got the most out of the package,” said the Dutchman. “We have made a small step this weekend but we still need to work on all elements to fight for victories.”