Wolff declares Verstappen ‘second winner’ of Russia

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen on the podium with Carlos Sainz. Russia September 2021

Max Verstappen with his thumb up on the podium, standing next to Lewis Hamilton with Carlos Sainz also up there. Russia September 2021

Lewis Hamilton may have been the first across the line at the Russian GP, but Toto Wolff concedes Max Verstappen was also a “winner” with his P2.

After months of waiting, Hamilton finally claimed his 100th Formula 1 race win, taking the chequered flag as the drama from a late-race rain shower played out in his favour.

The celebrations were partially tempered, at least for Wolff, by the driver who came second, Verstappen.

Despite starting P20 on the grid, the Dutchman was up in seventh place when the rain hit and, as the chequered flag fell, was P2 behind Hamilton.

That meant instead of a 19-point swing in Hamilton’s favour, it was five with the Brit eking out a two-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship.

“The fact that Verstappen finished second makes it a bit bittersweet,” Wolff said, as quoted by¬†F1-Insider.

“Before the rain, Max was seventh and we were second, that’s about the same point difference as with one and two. We have to take it that way now.

“But he’s the second winner today.”

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With just two points separating the protagonists, Wolff reckons the championship will go down to the wire.

“I think neither driver or neither team can have any comfort in the current situation because there is just no gap in terms of points,” said the Austrian. “I think this is going to go very long.”

His Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner was delighted with the race as, while Red Bull had hoped Verstappen would score points, P2 was beyond their wildest dreams.

“It was like a victory for us,” he told Sky F1. “If someone had offered me this result before the race, I would have bitten off their arm.

“Everyone in the team is enjoying it, and it’s all going to be about the next seven races – not making mistakes and getting the strategy right, having the pace and penalties will play a role.


“It will be fascinating to see how this unfolds. I think Turkey was an interesting race for us last year with the new surface and that weathered in. We are looking forward to it.

“It‚Äôs going to be a phenomenal competition. This is going to go all down to the wire in Abu Dhabi.”