"Perfect place" for Verstappen to win

Max Verstappen said it was a perfect race to win as a Red Bull Racing driver after he took the chequered flag in Austria on Sunday.

Monday, 2nd July 2018, 4:00 pm
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 5:02 pm
Verstappen celebrates in Austria

The 20-year-old claimed his first win of the season, and fourth career triumph, at the Red Bull Ring - the circuit owned by his Red Bull Racing team - in a faultless performance.

With thousands of Dutch fans crossing the border to support their man, waves of orange were seen filling the grandstands at the circuit, with roars of delight as their man crossed the line first ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

“I’m so happy to win at the Red Bull Ring, and with so many Dutch fans here," said Verstappen afterwards. "It was also so unexpected, and that makes it even better.

Max Verstappen

"If you want to win a race this is the perfect place, in a Red Bull car at the Red Bull Ring.

"The fans in the grandstand were great, so many orange t-shirts there. My focus was always on the track but for the last few laps I could look a little bit to my left and they were really cheering me on, it was amazing.”

Verstappen started fourth on the grid, but capitalised from teh start when Raikkonen was squeezed out by Valtteri Bottas' Mercedes in the battle for second to climb up to third. When Bottas retired and brought out a Virtual Safety Car, Verstappen dived into the pits while leader Lewis Hamilton stayed out. With the field bunched up, Hamilton's advantage was shot, and when he pitted, Verstappen took over the lead ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

While both Ricciardo and Hamilton needed to pit again as their tyres wore out, they both subsequently retired, unable to make their new tyres count. Meanwhile Verstappen, Raikkonen and Vettel were able to eek out their tyre life, but Verstappen remained in total control to take his first win of the 2018 season/

Verstappen celebrates with his team

He said: "For the race I was very happy in general with how the car was behaving but I always just try to do my best race possible; if that is going to be first, second, third, it’s not in your hand.

"From my side I felt in control, I was driving to the best I could with the car I had and at the end we were struggling a little more than Ferrari with the tyre blistering but we managed to stay ahead.

"I knew that Daniel and Lewis had to pit again and I didn’t want that scenario so I was not driving to the full limit of the car but just managing everything. It was tougher than perhaps it looked but I just needed to be on top of my tyres. I’m very thankful to the engineers for making that strategy call under the VSC and full complements to the team for that pitstop, because that definitely made our race."