Max Verstappen pointed back to the controversy surrounding his driving in Austin last weekend as a motivating factor behind his Mexican Grand Prix victory.
The Red Bull driver was penalized for leaving the track and gaining a lasting advantage on the final lap of the United States Grand Prix as he overtook Kimi Raikkonen while cutting the inside of a corner. Demoted from third to fourth, Verstappen was highly critical of the stewarding at the time and stood by his comments at the start of the Mexico weekend.
“After last week I was very fired up and very motivated to do well, so that’s why yesterday I think I was giving it everything,” Verstappen said after taking a dominant victory. “Of course I missed out on pole, but I was very determined to win this race and I gave it all in the start, in Turn 1 and it feels great.
“Of course it makes it very special also here in Mexico with a lot of fans. They are very passionate about Formula 1 and it’s a great podium to be on, which last year I think I should have been on already but I missed out at the very last moment, but luckily now no penalties.”
Verstappen took the lead on the opening lap after going wheel-to-wheel with Sebastian Vettel, and he said the move was crucial in allowing him to exploit the pace in his car.
“With the pre-start limiter I was a bit too high and I almost touched the limit so my start was not great, but then actually because of that I was in a good position, because then I had a good slipstream from Sebastian. I went on the outside and I was like ‘I’m going to try around the outside and see what happens.” I just saw we had a little bit of a touch into Turn 2 but luckily nothing happened there.
“From there onwards I could do my own race. I was pulling away every single lap. The car had a great balance, I could look after the tires and, yeah, I managed to bring it home like that. Very happy. I knew that the car was good but I didn’t know that it was going to be this good in the race.”
There was one cause for concern for Verstappen as Renault suffered numerous reliability issues, with four of the six Renault-powered cars retiring from the race, including his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
“I think Pierre [Gasly] was also still going, but I could see a lot of cars blowing up and retiring, so I was definitely a bit worried but we looked after our engine and everything seemed to work pretty well,” he said.
“I saw on the TV screen that [Ricciardo] retired and then I saw another Toro Rosso in front of me on fire and I was like ‘Oh my God, don’t let this happen to me.’ So we turned down the engine quite a lot and everything seemed to be fine.
“Luckily, I have quite a new engine, so maybe that helped out quite well, but then again Daniel was with a very new engine as well, so I don’t know. I had my bad luck in the beginning of the year, so I’m very happy that this time nothing happened to me.”