Risking his team bosses’ ire to go for the fastest lap point at the Spanish Grand Prix, Max Verstappen says he’s already laughing about it with Helmut Marko.
Verstappen was, as has all too often been said this season, in a league of his own in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix as the reigning World Champion cruised to the victory ahead of the Mercedes pairing of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
However as the laps counted down he made life a bit more tricky for himself when he was shown the black-and-white flag for exceeding track limits on three occasions. The next, if there was to be one, would be a five-second time penalty.
Despite that hanging over his head, Verstappen asked his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase about the fastest lap of the race.
GP replied: “We cannot afford any [risks]. Don’t worry about it.”
Verstappen ignored him and went for it, setting the fastest lap of the race on his next lap to bag the extra point.
GP, somewhat resigned, told his driver: “Bring it home – within the white lines now. Thank you.”
Verstappen replied: “Yeah, yeah.”
‘But you can’t be angry with him’
Although the championship leader did bring it home, and within the white lines, his Red Bull team bosses aren’t overly impressed.
“We didn’t want him to set the fastest lap,” Red Bull motorsport advisor Marko told Sky Deutschland. “You just can’t stop him.
“He already had three warnings for the track limits. You don’t really risk anything in a situation like that.”
“But,” he added, “you can’t be angry with him.”
Christian Horner intends on having a chat with his driver about Sunday’s antics.
“He has already had three offenses and the next one would have been a time penalty,” he told Sky, explaining that while his driver did have a big lead over second-placed Lewis Hamilton, if there’s been a “Safety Car or something, it could’ve extremely painful.”
He added: “Of course we’ll talk to him.”
Max Verstappen: ‘I knew that I could do it’
Verstappen, though, saw nothing wrong with his actions with the driver saying they were already laughing about it before he even went into the post-race press conference.
“I kept it within the white lines, I just went a bit faster on the lap,” he said. “So I didn’t do anything wrong.
“They don’t know how much pace I have in the car, right, when they tell me this is the fastest lap, don’t bother, but I knew that I could do it.
“So yeah, I just had to keep it within the white lines but this is something I think we can laugh about already.
“I was laughing about it with Helmut after the race so I’m pretty sure that they’re quite happy.”
Asked about his track limit violations which came at Turns 5 and 10, he explained: “I went over the white line three times. It happens sometimes.
“Some tracks it’s a bit easier to do and I was struggling a little bit with the harder tyres to keep it within the white lines.
“But once I had that last warning then I had to keep it within the white lines. But it’s not an issue really.”
Sunday’s result with Verstappen taking the maximum 26 points, while his team-mate Sergio Perez only scored 12 with his P4 result, meant the Dutchman extended his lead at the top of the Drivers’ standings to 53 points.