Verstappen concedes Pirelli tyres “don’t feel particularly great” at Interlagos after F1 sprint win

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The common denominator of the 2023 season has been Red Bull’s dominance, and The Brazilian Grand Prix Sprint Race hasn’t strayed far from the norm. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez showcased the power of their RB19.

Max Verstappen

Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

Starting second behind Lando Norris, it didn’t take Verstappen too long to snatch the first position despite a poorer starting reaction as he passed into turn 1.

He went on to lead the whole way to take his fourth Sprint win of 2023.

Verstappen explained how the second phase of the start got him the jump on Norris.

“It was, of course, important to try and get ahead at the start.

“I think the initial launch wasn’t, let’s say, amazing, but the second part of the start was very good. So, we got alongside, and then it was all about management.”

Tyre degradation played a big role in the sprint, with most drivers having to manage a lot throughout the race.

The Dutch driver emphasized the importance of managing his softs until the end. He didn’t push at the maximum on any lap of the F1 Sprint due to the nature of the tyres.

“There is not one lap that I pushed flat-out; you can’t; it’s impossible.

“For 24 laps around here, it’s all about tyre management. It’s just incredibly difficult around here.

“Last year, we were struggling a lot with that already in the sprint race, and that’s why it was a bit careful. Luckily it worked out.

“The whole race, the tyres don’t feel particularly great around here. But with the management we did, I think it worked out, and we won the race.”

Norris seemed to be catching up to the lead after passing Russell but ultimately fell away.

Verstappen explained how things looked from his point of view.

“Like I said, it’s all about management, and at one point of the race, it looked like Lando was catching a bit.

“Then I had a better feeling with the car again, and I could look after the tyres a bit better, and then I could pull away again at the end. So it was close.

“Tomorrow, we have pit stops in the race, so you never know what’s going to happen.”

While his teammate Sergio Perez initially fell behind both Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton on the first lap, by lap 10 of the 24-lap sprint, he had managed to pass both British drivers and regained third place, which he maintained until the end.

Sergio Perez

Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

The Mexican driver believed that having to ask too much of his soft tyres in order to pass Hamilton at the beginning cost him too much time and stopped him from challenging Mclaren’s Norris in second, saying: “Yeah, it was not an easy one, I had a terrible start, ended up losing place to George. And then another place to Lewis into Turn 4.

“From then on, I was fighting. I had to use my tyres a lot. And then I think I paid the price towards the end.

“Overall, it’s been a good day. Good points there. But unfortunately, I think without the start, we could have been a lot further up.

“The problem I had was that I couldn’t manage. I had to push. And we know that this place is very sensitive for that. It ended up costing us.”

Hamilton completed the race in seventh place, facing tyre deg issues that allowed Perez to gain an advantage of four points over his rival in the championship. This extended Perez’s lead to 24 in the fight for P2.

With Hamilton starting the São Paulo Grand Prix on Sunday from fifth place and Perez from ninth, the Mexican faces a challenge to extend his gap on the basis of the grid.

“Obviously, it’s important [to finish 3rd and ahead of Hamilton].

“But it’s more important to keep that momentum going now; we had a very good day overall.

“Hopefully, tomorrow, which is the main race, we can consolidate with a strong result.”