Verstappen happy after third Grand Chelem: “It’s a big pleasure to drive with a car like this”

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Photo credit: Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen cruised to his 40th Formula 1 victory in Barcelona, after dominating the weekend by finishing first in all free practices and qualifying. In fact, he scored his third Grand Chelem, so it is no surprise that he was quite chuffed with the perfomance.

“It’s a big pleasure to drive with a car like this. I think it showed again today. We had quite a lot of different tyre strategies out there. I think for most of the race we were on the right one. But again, a win here it’s incredible.”

The only challenge came at the start when Carlos Sainz tried to go around the outside of turn 1, but he managed to fend off the Ferrari-driver.

“I mean, I had the harder compound. Of course I knew the start was maybe going to be a bit tricky and going around the outside in turn one is always quite difficult, but luckily nothing happened.”

“I think it was important, of course, to try and keep the lead into turn one. I know it’s quite tight, but actually we had a very good start. And then, yeah, from there onwards, just tried to manage the pace on the medium. I knew everyone behind me mainly was on a soft. And I think especially those last eight laps of that stint, I could really create a big gap.”

He explained why they went with the medium over the soft. Only teammate Pérez and Sargeant chose that tyre as well. Everyone else bar Leclerc on hards made the decision to go with softs in the first stint.

“Yeah, I mean, for me, it was just very close between a medium or a soft. It was just probably that the life on a medium was probably a little bit better than a soft tyre. That’s why I decided to start on the medium, to be honest.”

The championship leader drove the second stint on the hard tyre, but he wasn’t to pleased with Pirelli’s C1 rubber.

“And then we went on to the hard tyre. I actually expected them to be a little bit better, but somehow they just didn’t have a lot of grip. I was actually sliding around quite a bit. I mean, of course, the pace was still okay, but I couldn’t really create much more of a gap. Not how I would have liked. But then, of course, we just did the amount of laps we had to do on that tyre. And then we pitted again for the soft. That actually felt a lot nicer to drive.”

Despite the sizeable gap at the finish, Verstappen felt he had some pace to spare if necessary, but he didn’t really want to do it.

“I guess so. If you are really like, you know, if you had to try and catch up, let’s say probably yes, but it’s not necessary. It’s all about managing your tyres, also trying to reach the stint length.”

The Red Bull driver got a black-and-white warning flag for crossing the track limits too often, but despite this he pushed for the fastest lap, prompting his engineer Gianpiero Lambiase bring his driver back into line.

“Yeah, I went over the white line three times. It happens sometimes. I mean, some tracks, it’s a bit easier to do. And I was struggling a little bit with the harder tyres to keep it within the white lines. But I knew once I had that last warning, I have to keep it within the white lines, but it’s not really an issue.”

About the actual fastest lap he added: “I just went a bit faster on the lap. So I didn’t do anything wrong. They don’t know how much pace I have in the car, right, when they tell me: this is the fastest lap, don’t bother. But I knew that I could do it. So yeah, just had to keep it within the white lines. This is something I think we can laugh about already. I mean, I was laughing about it with Helmut after the race. So I’m pretty sure that they’re quite happy. Yeah, it wasn’t a subtle hint.”

Despite a 53-point advantage the two-time world championship is wary of the competition, warning that he and Red Bull should not be complacent with the current situation.

“It’s a good period, but we have to keep on working and trying to find more performance. I’m happy in the car. And I think the last few race weekends have been definitely a lot more positive for me. But this is one weekend where I think it went really well. But we also know that maybe some other tracks, it’s not like this. So a lot of races to come where we again have to perform really well to try and win the race.”