It was another podium for Red Bull Racing as Max Verstappen beat the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, to take second place at the Portuguese Grand Prix. Teammate Sergio Pérez took fourth place, and driver of the day.
Second place was the best Verstappen could manage at Portugal, after capitalising on every chance given. The Dutchman got past race winner Lewis Hamilton straight after the safety car restart, however soon fell back behind the world champion.
The Red Bull team then went for the undercut on Bottas, who was also overtaken by Hamilton. It worked perfectly for Verstappen who overtook Bottas on the following lap after the Mercedes driver failed to get his fresh tyres up to temperature quickly enough. With Bottas then hitting technical trouble, it was a well earned second place for Verstappen. Can he go one better next week in Barcelona?
“Something about this track really does not suit our car and I think in general this was a bit of an off weekend in terms of grip and overall pace.” Said Verstappen.
“We knew last year that we weren’t particularly strong here, so this year has been a bit better and we managed to finish ahead of one Mercedes, but it wasn’t quite good enough to get them both.”
“Nevertheless, second is still a pretty good result and we always knew this season would be up and down in terms of the tracks we were strong at and the ones Mercedes were. The race today was pretty decent though and we were all constantly pushing which was nice. I tried to put the pressure on Valtteri in the beginning as he was struggling for grip, but clearly Lewis behind had more pace and he made it past us both.“
Verstappen continued: “I was then able to undercut Valtteri in the pit stop but you could clearly see on the hard tyres we were just a bit slower, some laps we could match Lewis and others it was just not possible. Towards the end of the race Valtteri was even coming back at me which showed their pace today. It’s a shame the Fastest Lap got taken away, stupid track limits [laughs], they should just put gravel back! It is what it is, we always try and I had the gap so we went for it.
“We scored good points here but I’m looking forward to Barcelona, a track that has more normal grip levels and where I have good memories. I think we will also see a clearer picture of how teams have been progressing. It’s a long season ahead so a lot can happen.”
“Today was a busy race on my side!” – Pérez
It was a brilliant drive by Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Pérez (Checo), who after an early battle with McLaren F1 Team‘s Lando Norris, managed his tyres unbelievably well. The Mexican didn’t pit until the closing stages of the race and went on to claim a deserving fourth place and driver of the day.
Checo is showing further progression at every race so far this season, will he be able to go one place higher next weekend at Barcelona and claim his first Red Bull podium?
“Today was a busy race on my side! Lando managed to get past me at Turn 4 but I thought he had all four wheels off the track so I didn’t defend thinking he’d have to give the place back due to track limits but that wasn’t the case. It was a misjudgment on my side and a mistake but being stuck behind Lando compromised our race and cost us a lot of time. When I got past him my pace was good but I think the damage had already been done.”
“Afterwards we tried to do something different with strategy by going long in the hope of a Safety Car but it didn’t work out and fourth was the maximum we could do. We are definitely making good progression with the car and the race pace, I am understanding it more and more with the extra kilometres I am driving. Of course there are still areas I need to get on top of and improve but it’s just a process and we’ll continue working hard for next week in Barcelona.”
“It’s been very close again with Mercedes all weekend and I think this will be the case for the entire season. Some weekends they will be faster and others we will be so we just have to make sure we keep our heads down and continue working hard.”