Max Verstappen never expected to be on the podium in the Chinese Grand prix after the awful qualifying session he had.
The Dutch Red Bull driver suffered an engine misfire and ended 19th. He was 16th on the grid after a couple of other drivers got penalties. Still that was very far behind and Max honestly believed he could not get to the top 3. His start and first lap though were phenomenal and he quickly found himself in a completely different position.
“That was a very special race. When I woke up in the morning I never expected to be on the podium. It was a very good first lap, I passed nine cars I think which is very positive. The conditions really helped me get past the cars as quick as I could, that was important as I knew it would only dry up and get tougher to pass. I always enjoy driving in the wet so I made the most of the fun conditions early on. In the first eleven laps I got up to seventh place, I think, which set me up for a strong finish.”
Max Verstappen: “It was a very good first lap, I passed nine cars I think which is very positive”
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) 9 April 2017
“We were a bit unsure of how the balance of the car would be towards the end of the race as I didn’t run much yesterday in Qualifying and the temperature is a lot lower today. We had quite a bit of understeer but just about managed to hold on to third place. These balance issues combined with being within two seconds of another car in the closing stages of the race made it really hard to drive, there were blue flags out but I still couldn’t get past, this needs looking into.”
“The battle with Daniel at the end was hard as my car was not fun to defend in. I’m glad we hung on and obviously it was a great race to watch and for the team. I think on pure pace in the dry we are still a bit slow for a podium but all things considered today we definitely maxed it out.”
Daniel Ricciardo battled with his teammate for the last podium position but could not pass him
“I have mixed emotions”, the Australian admitted. “It’s obviously disappointing to miss out on the podium as it was so close. But as a team it’s a good result to finish third and fourth. I lost a lot of time in the first stint as I struggled to keep my front tyres alive and that pretty much put us out of a podium position. After the first pit stop I had good balance and speed. That meant I could claw some time back and close the gap to the leaders.”
“Towards the end of the race I could see that Max was struggling with his tyres. But as soon as I got close to him I also began to struggle with mine. The team let us race. But even though I was in the DRS zone I was not really close enough to pull off a convincing move. I had a look but the inside lines were still quite slippery into the hairpin. And I was honestly never really close enough to make a move stick. It was also quite noticeable that the DRS effect is far less on the cars this year which didn’t help.”
“As a team we should be pleased with the result and we learnt a lot today but we still have some work to do to close the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari.”