Australian GP | Verstappen happy with victory, despite poor starts and red flags.

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Photo credit: Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen grabbed his 37th Formula 1 victory after a long day in the office in Melbourne. Three red flags, three standing starts and a small error in turn 13 could not prevent the reigning world champion from winning his second race of the season. His first start wasn’t to his liking however, he said to David Coulthard:

“We had a very poor start. And then, yeah, lap 1, I was careful because I had a lot to lose and they had a lot to win, you know. So, yeah, after that, I mean, I think the pace of the car was quick. You could see that straight away. We were always there waiting for the DRS to open up to have a chance to pass.”

He later added during the press conference:“Just didn’t really get well off the line and I think actually it just got better and better, my start, so at least that’s an improvement.”

Understandably he wasn’t too keen on having to do another one right at the end of the race:

“I mean I had a terrible first one so I was actually not really looking forward to it, but luckily we seemed to improve it a bit afterwards. But I think it, it was a bit more difficult because of how cold the tyres were so you also didn’t really know what you were gonna get off the line.”

After his first poor getaway he was passed by George Russell and a little later by Hamilton in a move Verstappen deemed not quite within the rules.

“For my side, I just tried to avoid a contact. It’s quite clear in the rules what you’re allowed to do now in the outside, but clearly it’s not followed. But that’s OK. We had good pace. We passed them anyway. But it’s something for the next races to take into account.

I think I could have been a little bit more aggressive but on the other hand I didn’t want to have any damage on my car because I knew that we had a quick car. So even losing one or two spots was not the end of the world.”

A while later in the race the current championship leader made a small error, locking up his tyres into turn 13. It made him go through the grass, but in the end it only cost him a few seconds from his substantial lead.

“Yeah, I think I did the city a favor. I just cut the grass a bit more. They don’t need to do that anymore in that area. So, yeah, I don’t know. I locked up a bit and didn’t want to flat spot the tyre completely. So, I ran a bit wide. But we had a good margin.”

Verstappen was also quite vocal about the red flags, not really understanding why the race was halted twice before the final chaos in lap 57.

“Of course I’m very happy to win the race, but I think the race itself towards the end was a bit of a mess with all the calls. I don’t think we needed that second red flag. I think that could have been done with a virtual safety car or a safety car at worst. I think it left a lot of drivers confused why we needed it, needed a red flag.

But we got that red flag and then you basically create even more trouble, because then you go out on very cold tyres. The safety car is driving super slow and then you arrive, you know, to the grid with stone cold tyres and you could see everyone in turn one was having a lot of trouble. Especially the cars in dirty air. Nobody crashes on on purpose, but everyone went wide or had a touch, which is very chaotic.”

The win was shortly rumoured to be under threat because Verstappen seemed not quite in the right place at the second restart, but the Dutchman believed he was on the limit, not over it.

“I think I braked a bit late and then I lost my reference a bit, but then I looked and I was like I still have a little bit more space. I actually moved a bit forward and, yeah, it was really on the limit, but on the limit is on the limit, it’s not over the limit.”