Max Verstappen says he had added determination to win today’s Mexican Grand Prix after a sleepless night as a result of missing out on pole position on Saturday.
Quickest in all three practice sessions, Verstappen was on provisional pole until the final runs in Q3 when teammate Daniel Ricciardo pipped him by 0.026s. Verstappen blamed car handling issues for the missed opportunity yesterday but immediately took the lead at the start of the race and eased to a comfortable victory from Sebastian Vettel as Ricciardo retired from second place.
“Amazing,” Verstappen said. “The start was the key. To be honest I didn’t sleep very well last tonight, I was really determined to win today. Luckily we did that. Amazing job by the team as well. We had the right tires available and the car was working really well.
“Without the issue for Daniel we could have had a one-two or at least two cars on the podium. Then of course afterwards it was making sure I didn’t retire.
“It was a bit similar to last year where I could do my own race which helps a lot and I think this year was a bit more difficult because of the tires — they were easy to grain but of course I didn’t have any traffic and it seemed like Lewis (Hamilton) was struggling a bit more with his tires so I had no pressure from behind for a very long time.
“I was doing my own pace, matching his lap times when I needed to, then of course Sebastian was coming through the field, passing Daniel, and also Lewis. I had to pick up the pace a little bit to try and match him and that seemed to be working alright.”
Verstappen would have become the youngest polesitter in F1 history had he secured pole on Saturday, but he says the race victory is far more important than achieving such a record.
“The frustration yesterday was that I didn’t have an ultimate package to fight for pole, because we had the same problem as in second practice so I never felt comfortable because of the problems. That’s why I was frustrated because in qualifying everything needs to come together — you try and optimize everything and clearly it was not optimized.
“I am not there to be second, third. I want to win, I want to be on pole and at the end of the day the record for me is not a big deal — the points and stuff are always on Sunday and that’s what is most important.”