Verstappen ends his run of DNFs with a podium in Russia
"We needed that after the last few races," said the Dutchman
After back-to-back retirements, Red Bull's Max Verstappen said second place at the Russian Grand Prix was just what the doctor ordered.
The Dutchman split the Mercedes cars of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton in Sochi, but lost ground on the Finn in what is appearing to be a battle for second place in the championship.
Following a mechanical retirement in the Italian Grand Prix and a crash in the Tuscan Grand Prix, Verstappen said he was relieved to turn around his strong qualifying performance into an equally good finish.
“We can be very happy with second place today, especially on a track where we know that we aren’t normally so competitive," he said. "We needed that after the last few races. There was very low grip on the inside of the grid at the start, which cost us a bit and the first few corners were pretty interesting, but we stayed calm and I quickly moved past Daniel (Ricciardo) again.
"I struggled to follow the Mercedes cars on the medium tyre as I had a lot of oversteer but once I pitted on to the hard we were more competitive and I focused on my own race which we managed well.
"It’s good to be back on the podium and we can definitely be pleased to finish within eight seconds of Bottas on this track.”
Alex Albon in the other Red Bull endured a tough afternoon for the final points scoring place in 10th. Starting 15th after taking a gearbox penalty, the Thai driver had an entertaining battle with George Russell and Lando Norris - his close friends off the track - for the low positions after all three pitted under the safety car, before climbing up through the field. He was handed a late penalty, though he was not demoted out of his 10th place.
He said: "Today was a lot of work for one point and it wasn’t an easy race. We struggled at the beginning to overtake and get through the pack on the hard tyre and so we lost a lot of time. When we swapped to the mediums it was a little better and we did as much as we could but it was difficult out there and a frustrating race. We were just in traffic the whole time without any clean air so we couldn’t put down any really good laps.
"After the gearbox penalty, today was about damage limitation and now I’m already focusing on Germany and having a cleaner weekend in two weeks’ time.”