Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen who started Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix from third place on the grid ended the event on the podium in second place just behind championship leader Nico Rosberg.
Verstappen’s second place means that he moves ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the championship up to fifth place in the standings.
Speaking following the race, Verstappen commented by saying:
We knew the start was going to be very decisive and we had a really good one today which allowed me to settle into my own rhythm. I’m pleased the starts are coming together, that’s two in a row now. I was then able to sit behind Nico (Rosberg) and control my tyres. The team gave me a really strong strategy, along with a car that felt very balanced so I was able to enjoy a successful race. I was really happy to be able to get in-between the two Mercedes cars, it is a great result yet again for the team. In the race we had quick pace but I think Nico was still only cruising. When I sped up Nico could match it and if I slowed he did also, he was in control. Lewis (Hamilton) was obviously a bit quicker in the final stages and I knew he was going to catch me, the gap time on the pit board was dropping every lap. Into the last chicane I saw him coming in my mirrors so I defended my position, this allowed me to hang on for the second place.I had some concerns about the blue flags, I think we need to talk about it. I have been in the same situation last year and earlier this year, I understand from their (back-markers) perspective you want to race but the guys lapping you are racing for a podium so you have to have a different approach.
A fantastic drive by Max today. A very mature performance, moving into second place and then really looking after his tyres resisting pressure initially from Sebastian and then at the end of the race from Lewis, with some great racing. It was fantastic to see him split the Mercedes and achieve our eighth 2nd place of the year. For Daniel it was a harder race, he struggled in particular it seemed in sector two of the circuit and we need to look at the data very closely to understand why. He was disadvantaged at the start, beginning on the damp side of the track but nonetheless he drove a very controlled race to bring the car home in sixth and secure valuable points towards our position in the Constructors’ Championship. Our congratulations go to Mercedes for securing their third consecutive Championship, a fine achievement.
Today wasn’t a very exciting race for me, and unfortunately it just wasn’t my day. Kimi’s (Raikkonen) penalty was a bit of a bummer for us as it put us on the wet side of the grid and that compromised the start. I don’t think my launch was too bad but Lewis obviously struggled to get off the line and I had to go around him through the wet and that made me lose a place to Sergio (Perez). Seb (Vettel) had a good exit out of Turn 14 and made quick work of me on the straight, then he caught Perez quickly as well. That sort of shaped the first stint for me. We struggled to stay close to the cars in front as we couldn’t follow them in the dirty air, and we didn’t have the straight line speed to make an attack. We struggled in the traffic and fell behind the eight ball. In the final stint towards the end I had a clear track and I was able put in some good laps but it wasn’t enough. I’m not going to get too down about it. I didn’t think there was anything else we could have done today, it was just circumstances and how the race panned out. We’ll come back in Austin ready to have a good weekend on track and also eat plenty of barbeque. I’m going to diet for the next few days so I arrive lighter in Austin and can enjoy the local food!