Max Verstappen was happy to end his run of first lap crashes to finish on the podium in Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix.
Running fourth before the first round of pitstops, the Red Bull Racing man pitted alongside Sebastian Vettel, but crucially earlier than both leader Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton in second. While Vettel was able to jump Leclerc for the lead, while Dutchman Verstappen leapfrogged Hamilton to claim third.
Three safety car periods threatened to leave Hamilton, on newer tyres, in position to attack Verstappen in the closing stages but the Dutchman was able to hold the championship leader at bay.
Heading into the weekend, Red Bull were amongst the favourites to fight for victory in Singapore, but while threat never materialised, Verstappen was happy to be back on the podium.
He said: “Of course we always want to win but finishing on the podium and gaining one place on a track where you can’t really overtake is positive. It’s true that we came here hoping for more but this is still a good result for us, especially with the pace that the others had yesterday in qualifying.
"Most of the race was about managing the pace to keep the tyres alive and luckily that worked out for me. Charles was managing his tyres out front and the pace was pretty slow but that kept everyone really close and allowed me to get the undercut on Lewis. We had good pace after the pit stop and I was comfortable in third even with all the safety car re-starts until the last few laps when Lewis was pushing hard to overtake me on newer tyres, but luckily we were able to hold on.
"I wouldn’t say that today was that exciting from a racing perspective but Singapore has a lot of plus points being a street circuit, really tough on the body and just being a cool track to drive on. This wasn’t exactly the weekend we hoped for but we will keep pushing before next weekend.”
Meanwhile, Alex Albon was unable to progress further than his sixth place on the grid to finish in the same place, despite harrying Valtteri Bottas in the latter stages.
He said: "Most of that race was just managing my tyres so it was physically easier than I expected. It was only in the last 20 laps when I was really pushing it that I could feel the strain. So, I would call it a battle of management as I started P6 and finished P6.
"At times it felt more like a procession than a race for me. It was also a bit frustrating as I spent the whole race stuck behind a Mercedes. As I couldn’t overtake on the track I hoped that a pit stop would move me up the field but unfortunately that didn’t happen and then the safety car came out a few times.
"In the middle stint I wanted to get past Valtteri but I didn’t have the pace to overtake the Mercedes. I spent the whole race starring at a silver rear wing which wasn’t that fun. When he pushed I pushed and when he saved his tyres I saved mine so I felt like I was just going backwards and forwards and it almost felt like he backed me up so Lewis could get ahead.
"All in all for my first time here it was a positive race. My pace was a lot better so I’m definitely making progress. Even during the race I was finding little tricks to improve my speed."