As he attempted to pass Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen acknowledged he wasn’t sure his team’s decision to pit him early would pay off.
After undercutting the new leader and regaining track position, Hamilton passed polesitter Verstappen at the start, and Red Bull brought their driver into the pits after 10 laps.
In the closing stages, the Dutchman was able to hold off his title challenger on fresher tyres, with Red Bull’s decision allowing Verstappen to go for the win.
Toto Wolff believes Red Bull deserved to win after being “very aggressive” on their strategy call, which the World Championship leader admitted left him uncertain about the outcome as the race progressed.
“We lost out at the start, so we had to try and do something else,” Verstappen said in parc ferme after the chequered flag. “But the tyre wear is quite high around this track, so we did go aggressive.
“I was not sure it was going to work, but yeah, the last few laps were fun. A bit sideways through the high-speed corners, but super happy of course to hang on.”
With the Haas driver needing to move out of the way of the two leaders on the final lap, Mick Schumacher may have been an unwanted distraction.
Verstappen stated that he wished for the backmarker to move aside for him, and the moment Schumacher did so, the Red Bull received a crucial dose of DRS down the pit straight, preventing Hamilton from coming even closer to the one-second window.
“It was tough…the tyres were not in a great state and I knew how much Lewis [Hamilton] was catching,” Verstappen said.
“But we managed to hold on at the end. It is quite difficult to pass around here but, of course, when your tyres are going you can lose a lot of lap time.
“Luckily it was just enough. Also, with two laps to go, I could see the Haas car [Mick Schumacher] in front of me and I was like ‘Oh! Please move out of the way!’ but it was his right, I was only within 1.5 seconds because my tyres were starting to fall away and so when you are following it makes it even difficult.
“Luckily he ended up giving me the DRS, so that helped a little bit. What I lost in the corners [to him] I gained again on the straight.
Asked if he was nervous about pitting so early to force the undercut on Hamilton, Verstappen replied: “I was just happy to be in front because then it was a different story instead of attacking.
“Of course, you have find out at the end how it is going to work out, but I prefer to be in the lead and maybe you get overtaken to the end and you are behind.
“Luckily we gave it our well and it all worked out right.”
The uniforms of Formula One racing drivers are currently available at the following websites for a reasonable price: