Max Verstappen had prepared himself for a P3 finish at best in Austria before the pursuing Carlos Sainz suffered an engine blowout.
Despite taking pole and a comfortable sprint qualifying victory in Austria, the Grand Prix saw Ferrari shine, Verstappen powerless to stop Charles Leclerc from taking his first win since April’s Australian GP.
Verstappen limited the damage with a P2 finish, his lead over Leclerc in the standings still a healthy 38 points, though Verstappen was expecting a Ferrari one-two.
After Leclerc had passed Verstappen for the lead for the final time, Sainz was shaping up Verstappen to demote him another position, only for his Ferrari power unit to call it quits.
Until that moment, Verstappen had already come to terms with the fact that P3 was the best he was going to achieve in the race.
“I think second place is okay, because the whole race we were too slow,” he told ServusTV, quoted by RacingNews365.com.
“Ferrari was simply faster. Normally we are good with the tyres, but here we had problems.
“After two laps, we were slower than expected and Ferrari was faster than expected. The last eight laps in the sprint they were also fast.
“I thought after the sprint that we could still improve the car, but that didn’t work out.
“Until the lap he [Sainz] dropped out I thought third place was the maximum, because both Ferraris were faster.
“At the end [of the race], Charles even had a problem with his accelerator, but then we were only two or three-tenths faster per lap.
“As a team, we were lucky to finish second. For us as a team, of course, it was good. We have to understand those problems and we will analyse everything.”
The lead changed hands between Leclerc and Verstappen three times, Leclerc making the move on every occasion.
And come the third and final time, Verstappen had decided that this was a losing battle, so chose not to take any risks by fighting to keep Leclerc at bay.
“Of course, I had already realised that we were too slow,” Verstappen confirmed.
“I tried to do something, but after a few laps you see that you have no chance. Then, of course, you let Charles pass without taking much risk.”
The evolution of Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen played the championship game in taking home a safe second place in Austria.