Max Verstappen was pleased to end his 2019 season with a podium finish and by securing third in the Drivers’ Championship after a strong drive in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Starting on the front row, the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver lost out to Charles Leclerc on the opening lap but was able to reclaim second on the road later in the race, passing the Monegasque racer into turn eight.
From there on he was untroubled as he finished the year third in the championship, although he felt he was unable to do anything about Lewis Hamilton up front, with Mercedes AMG Motorsport being by far the best team on the day at the Yas Marina Circuit. He at least had the satisfaction of being both Scuderia Ferrari drivers in the final standings.
“Of course, I’m very happy to finish the season with a podium and to be third in the championship ahead of both Ferraris is also a good achievement,” said Verstappen. “On this track today Mercedes and Lewis were just a bit too quick but as a Team we had a good strategy, good pit stops and the car was working really well so second place is a good result on this track.
“The pace was good and overall we were quite a bit faster than the other guys which is a nice feeling.”
Looking back at his season, Verstappen feels that the victory he achieved at the Red Bull Ring was his highlight, with the win giving Honda their first triumph since they returned to the sport as an engine manufacturer.
“Looking back my highlight of the season was Austria,” said Verstappen. “To take the first victory for Honda in the V6 era was very emotional and as a Team to win at our home track again in front of so many Dutch fans was a great feeling.
“It’s been a good season and the Team never stopped pushing. Honda also made some great improvements so we can be very happy with our first season together.”
Verstappen wants the momentum from 2019 to carry into the winter break and into 2020, where he hopes there is even more improvements, enough that could see him possibly fight for the championship next season.
“As a Team we want to move forward next year and fight for the title,” said the Dutchman. “We need to push flat out to close the gap but looking at the last few races we have made a positive step.
“It’s a great ending and now we just want to focus ahead and be even more competitive in 2020.”