Delighted Verstappen defends his move on Leclerc
Max Verstappen said drivers should 'stay at home' if they were to be penalised for his pass for the lead at Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix.
The Dutchman collided with then-leader Charles Leclerc with two laps to go as Verstappen dived up the inside of Turn 3 to claim back-to-back wins at the Red Bull Ring, but was subject to a lengthy steward's inquiry afterwards.
Some three hours after the race had ended, Verstappen's race win - his sixth of his career and first since the Mexican Grand Pric last year - was confirmed.
"The move was close racing and if you can’t make moves like that I think it is better to stay at home," he said. “It was an incredible race and I’m so happy to take the team’s second victory at our home Grand Prix.
"I want to say a big thank you to everyone at Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, all weekend we have been working really well and the upgrades seem to have worked. Thank you to all the crew here, everyone at the factory and of course Honda, it’s not been easy for them over the past years but to win for them today is just incredible.”
Verstappen started alongside Leclerc on the front row of the grid after Lewis Hamilton suffered a three-place drop for impeding Kimi Raikkonen on Saturday. But he made a disastrous start, dropping to seventh. His battle through the field though allowed him to run later, stopping for new tyres 10 laps later than his contenders.
And with fresher rubber, he made light work of Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas to mount a challenge on Leclerc in the closing stages.
"It was a shame at the start as I triggered anti-stall and dropped back to seventh," Verstappen continued. "From there onwards the pace was really good, I stayed calm and kept pushing hard. The second stint was decisive for us as the car really came alive.
"Once I passed Valtteri I thought I could have a go for the win as our pace was so strong but you never know. I just kept pushing, drove flat out and didn’t give up. We passed Charles with a few laps to go so I’m extremely happy."
Pressure on team-mate Pierre Gasly continued to mount though as he could only finish seventh, a lap behind his team-mate.
He said: "On my side, I’m not very happy with my performance and I could have managed the race a lot better. I’m a really competitive guy and there is work to do. I haven’t found exactly what I want from the car so we will keep pushing, but it’s good to see the car is working and I think we have a good direction for the upcoming races.
“It was a tough race and a difficult day. I didn’t have great pace on the soft tyre in the first stint and then I was stuck behind the cars in front. On the second stint, I pushed too hard at the beginning and destroyed the hard tyre after only a couple of laps which left me with massive blisters, so from there I was just slow and I didn’t have the pace to catch Lando (Norris)."