Max Verstappen says Red Bull could not do anything else to defend against a clearly faster Lewis Hamilton and was not overly disappointed to miss out on victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Hamilton put pressure on Verstappen throughout, but the polesitter looked to have the Mercedes covered after retaining the lead after the first round of pit stops and switching to the hard tire. However, with the front two well clear of the rest of the field, Hamilton pit for fresh medium tires and closed a gap of over 20 seconds to overtake Verstappen with four laps remaining, but the Dutchman says also making a second stop would have been pointless.
“It wouldn’t have made sense because then I would have been behind and then the race is lost anyway,” Verstappen said. “The only option from me was then to continue and that’s what we did.
“I started to run out of tires trying to keep up with Lewis’ pace on those medium tires, trying to keep within a second but it was almost impossible and then I ran out of tires, but you could see it coming, so for me it was not a big disappointment once he passed me, it was just a normal thing to happen.
“But anyway, we have to be realistic and he was just clearly faster today. Always I think I was struggling a little bit more for grip than him, he could keep the pressure on and of course when you are in second, you can gamble to do a two-stop.
“It was always about trying to cover him to stay ahead. If you do a two-stop worse case scenario you stay second, and best case you overtake me and that’s what they did today. We pitted at the end as well so, then of course happy to do that fastest lap. It’s still one point and hopefully at the end of the year it will matter, we will see.”
Hamilton believes he had the pace to pass Verstappen regardless of making a second pit stop or not, but Verstappen feels he had the five-time world champion covered if the strategies had remained the same throughout.
“I think on the first tire he never really had a shot, so we were still competitive in the last sector. When we got onto the hard tire, also with the traffic, because of that he had a few goes at me because I couldn’t take my normal lines through the last few corners and he caught up.
“Then of course with the defending I tried to do it as good as I could. I could stay ahead and he had to manage his brakes and engine a bit but you could see clearly once that was sorted he closed the gap again. I think if we had stayed on that one-stop, I think we could have kept him behind. But once he goes on the mediums then you know it’s going to be really hard.”