It was a “big bonus” extending his lead in the title race at the United States GP as Max Verstappen feels he “could have easily lost points”.
Racing at a track where he had just one podium to Lewis Hamilton’s five victories, Verstappen pulled off a surprise win at the Circuit of The Americas on Sunday.
Although he lost the lead to Lewis Hamilton at the start, Red Bull opted for an aggressive undercut strategy that saw the final stint play out with Hamilton on fresher tyres and chasing down the Dutchman.
Verstappen held on to take the win, doubling his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to 12 points.
“As you can see it is really tight and I could have easily lost points so it is a big bonus that we gained points,” he said.
“It is going to be very exciting to the end.”
Asked in the post-race press conference if his COTA victory was a confidence booster, the 24-year-old insisted he always believes in Red Bull’s ability to get the job done.
— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) October 27, 2021
“This doesn’t really change a lot because it’s all about the details – I always say it – so a win doesn’t give me more confidence or whatever,” he said.
“We are all confident within the team that we can do a really good job – but we need to nail the details and we have to start over again in Mexico, to try to get the best out of our whole package.”
Verstappen held his nerve in the closing laps at the Circuit of The Americas as the fast-charging Hamilton ate into his lead lap after lap.
Coming up behind a backmarker in Mick Schumacher was both a curse and blessing for Verstappen as while the dirty air coming off the Haas initially hampered him, when he got close enough, it gave him the DRS.
Verstappen won by 1.333s.
“At the end of the day I’m just focused on my lap times and, if he comes by, he gets you,” he said.
“I just tried to do the best I could and save the tyres in some places. Luckily it worked out.
“It was tense with two laps to go with the backmarker coming into play because when you are really struggling with your tyres, whatever dirty air you have in front of you it is not helping.
“Of course he gave me the DRS which was very nice of him but a few corners before I was really on the edge.”