Verstappen starts Honda era with podium finish

Verstappen starts Honda era with podium finish

Max Verstappen
photo: Quinn Rooney/Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen got the new Formula One season off to a hugely positive start. He improved on his fourth-place grid position by passing Sebastian Vettel on the outside of Turn 3 of lap 30. Verstappen finished third for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. The result also hands Honda their first F1 podium since the British Grand Prix in 2008.

The race was dominated by Mercedes, who saw Valtteri Bottas pass Lewis Hamilton off the start line and never really look back. Bottas, who didn’t win a race in 2018, finished over 20 seconds clear of his team-mate. He also claimed the new point for setting the fastest lap, despite a late effort from Verstappen.

Pierre Gasly put in a fine drive on his team debut. He made up six places from his grid position of 17th to finish in P11, one place outside the points. Gasly employed a long first-stop strategy. But he was unable to find a way past 10th-placed Daniil Kvyat after emerging from the pits.

Max Verstappen

Finish position: 3rd, Start position: 4th

“I am very happy for the team and also for Honda to finish on the podium today. Since we started working together it has been amazing and I am really enjoying the partnership, so this is a well-deserved third place for all of us. To be able to challenge Lewis at the end of the race and overtake Seb on-track, which around here is very difficult, is very positive. We had a little advantage with the tyres, but it was satisfying to pressure Lewis even though I couldn’t get quite close enough to overtake him. The car was working really well and we also look strong on the straights, which is hopefully a good sign for the rest of the season. I heard this is the first podium for Honda since 2008 so I am very happy that I managed to achieve this for them.”

Pierre Gasly

Finish position: 11th, Start position: 17th

“It was a pretty difficult race. With the new bigger rear wings, I couldn’t see the lights on the grid, so I had to react with the cars around me and I lost a couple of places. Then I got stuck in traffic and even with the DRS, it’s super difficult to overtake here. Plus, I had some debris in my front wing which didn’t help. I spent the whole race five 10ths from the car in front, but my tyres were just sliding and I couldn’t get past.”

“I pushed as much as I could, and I tried everything. But it wasn’t enough to make it into the points. In general, the pace over the weekend was really good. In qualifying, we got knocked out of Q1. I was happy with my first lap and it was just unfortunate that we didn’t make it through. Bahrain is a race I really like and we’ve seen the car is competitive so we’ll keep our heads down, stay focused and give a big push in two weeks’ time.”