Max Verstappen says it was the right call to pit for fresh tyres near the end of the British Grand Prix, despite the chance of grabbing an unlikely podium finish from Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Verstappen, running fourth, pitted just after second-placed Raikkonen suffered a front-left delamination.
But the Red Bull driver too was at risk of suffering a failure due to repeated locking of his front-left tyre.
Verstappen finished fourth, 16 seconds behind Raikkonen, but said he didn’t have any podium hopes – especially after a slow first pitstop due to a sticky left-rear wheelnut.
“You have to be realistic – we were just not fast enough for the podium on pace,” said Verstappen. “I think this was the best we could do.
“I got lucky with Seb’s puncture, so this is OK. And I finished the race as well.”
When pressed if he had needed the second pitstop, he replied: “You never really know, I just started locking a lot the inside-front wheel, the left front. Just to be sure, we pitted.
“All the fast corners are to the right, so it’s quite normal you start wearing the left-front. We pitted quite early, so at one point you start to struggle as the rubber comes off and there’s a bigger risk of punctures, of course.
“It is a positive day. I think in the race we looked a little bit better than in qualifying, we just need to understand why we were struggling that much. I’m happy to finish and fourth is not too bad.”
Happy with Vettel defence
Verstappen was earlier embroiled in a huge battle with Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari, repelling numerous attacks by the championship leader.
“I knew I was quite a bit slower than him, but I just tried to stay in front with every possible thing I could do,” said Verstappen of his dice with Vettel.
“And luckily he didn’t pass me on-track, so I’m happy about that.”