Verstappen avenges his Spa ghosts with podium finish
The Belgian Grand Prix hadn't been a happy hunting ground for Max Verstappen in the past, but after managing to avoid the chaos at the first corner, the Red Bull Racing man claimed a podium finish on Sunday.
While team-mate Daniel Ricciardo's race was effectively over by the exit of the La Source hairpin, clouted from behind, breaking his rear wing and damaging the floor of the car, Verstappen managed to keep his nose clean of the drama unfolding behind him.
Passing Romain Grosjean, Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez before the first round of pit-stops, Verstappen converted his seventh place start to a third place finish in what is effectively his home race, with native Holland just over the Belgian border.
“After a bit of bad luck here in Spa in the past I’m very pleased to finally be coming away with a podium," said Verstappen, finishing behind Lewis Hamilton and winner Sebastian Vettel. "There was a bit of first lap chaos to contend with but we made it through cleanly and managed to settle into a good pace right away.
"here wasn’t a lot more action for me. Seb and Lewis were once again too quick for us but in terms of balance the car felt really good.
"It is always good to be on the podium but being on it here in Spa with so many Dutch fans is really special. On the last lap I was able to take in the orange crowd and enjoy it."
After his first lap crash, Ricciardo limped back to the pits where the Red Bull team repaired the rear wing, but eventually gave it up as a bad job as he tried, to no avail, to battle through the field after being two laps down, retiring the otherwise healthy car.
He said: "My rear wing was pretty much ripped off and the mechanics tried to get me back out with a new wing before we went a lap down; we just missed that but they did all they could. We tried to stay out and hope for a Safety Car so we could get back on the lead lap, but we couldn’t just keep racing and hoping until the end, so we chose to retire with 14 laps remaining to save mileage on the engine and gearbox.
"After the rear wing change there was still some damage on my car as they had to fix it so quickly, we overtook quite a few cars but we weren’t really that fast and we were just circulating.
"Just one of those Sundays I guess. A lot of people would love my bad days, there you go, perspective. We will try again in Italy.”