Verstappen ‘surprised’ with second in Austria

Max Verstappen on the podium in Austria
Max Verstappen on the podium in Austria

Max Verstappen admitted he was surprised to take second place in Red Bull’s home race at the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The 18-year-old looked set to finish third before Nico Rosberg collided with Lewis Hamilton on the final lap, damaging his Mercedes, allowing Verstappen and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen to jump him before the chequered flag.

Max Verstappen celebrates his second place in Austria

Max Verstappen celebrates his second place in Austria

The Red Bull Racing driver drove a composed race in Spielberg, working his way up from eighth on the grid to find himself third from mid-distance.

On a different stagger from the Mercedes duo, Verstappen led for a handful of laps before being passed by both Rosberg and Hamilton. With Raikkonen closing fast, Verstappen was able to hold off the Finn, while avoiding the drama unfolding in front of him to pinch second place with three corners to go.

“It’s a great feeling to get the second Formula 1 podium of my career,” he said. “For sure that was a good race, the car was performing well, as were the tyres.

“I managed to overtake some cars at the start and had some good battles so that was really good fun. From there on I did my own race, Kimi was catching fast but I managed to hold him off until the end.

“I expected P3 but got the P2, I was surprised but very happy to pick up another position in the last lap. The safety car definitely helped us and allowed us to make the most of the pit stops. Towards the end we had to deal with the pressure but that just means you can’t make any mistakes, and we didn’t today.

“We are working hard for this season and picking up podiums so it’s definitely positive looking at 2017.”

But while Verstappen celebrated his second podium finish, team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was left to watch on as he started and finished fifth at the Red Bull Ring.

A difficult first stint saw Ricciardo drop down the field, unable to match the traction of those around them exiting corners.

A late pass on McLaren’s Jenson Button saw him salvage fifth late on.

The Australian, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Friday, said: “I think for the team it was a really good day. We didn’t expect to be on the podium here in Austria. Obviously I wish I was up there with Max, but from my side the race was a bit disappointing.

“At the beginning we seemed to get passed before Turn 8 which is not normal, so that was a bit frustrating but then once it settled we just weren’t quick. I was obviously trying to push on the tyre and then get what I could out of it.

“It seemed we could hold the pace, but then when everyone was improving and getting quicker and quicker we were just getting slower and slower.

“For now I just want to understand why and look into it. If there are things I need to do better, then I will make sure to figure that out.”