Max Verstappen admits his “controlled” drive earned him a best-case scenario P5 in the Canadian Grand Prix.
The red flags brought out by Kevin Magnussen’s crash in qualifying caused the Dutchman to be eliminated in Q2, but after Magnussen was forced to start from the pit lane following repairs and Carlos Sainz received a three-place grid penalty, Verstappen found himself starting P9 with a free tyre choice.
He opted for the hard compound which extended his first stint, but that lack of grip caused him to lose out at the start to McLaren’s Lando Norris.
“It was a controlled drive today,” he told reporters in Montreal.
“We stayed out of trouble at the beginning of the race, you see that McLaren has a good top speed, because they drive with less wing. That is why he could overtake me.
“I did not want to take any risk, so I stayed behind him. When his tyres started to trouble him, I was able to overtake him, it is so hard to overtake here. It is hard to follow.”
From 9 to 5, but it wasn’t just another day at the office. It was the best we could here today, but not yet where we want to be. Keep working and #KeepPushing #CanadianGP 🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/q2we1QfkXO
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) June 9, 2019
As the racers around him pitted to ditch the softs, Verstappen was able to fight on until lap 48 before making his sole stop, putting him in the perfect position to clear Renault’s Nico Hullkenberg and former team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
However, the admitted that was the best recovery he could have hoped for.
“I did a very long first stint which worked quite well to clear the traffic,” said the 21-year old. “I tried to preserve my tyres and then the competition in front of me had to pit.
“Once we pitted I quickly cleared the Renaults relatively easily, from there I pulled away and was able to focus on my own race.
“But we were not quick enough to catch the leaders, there was not much more I could do in the closing stages.
“My brakes became too hot, so I had to lift before the turns but that kept my brakes okay.
“I was able to drive my own rhythm, but that was not very quick in comparison to the top.
“I think realistically fifth was where we expected to finish. It was at least fun doing a bit of overtaking and we scored good points again.
“It was not our weekend and I would of course like more, but we have to work hard now to try and close the gap at the next race.”