Max Verstappen says his crash on the way to the grid makes his second place in the Hungarian Grand Prix the equivalent of a win for Red Bull.
The reconnaissance laps to the grid took place in wet conditions after pre-race rain, and Verstappen went off at Turn 12 and slid into the barriers. The contact was heavy and resulted in a damaged left-front corner and front wing, but Verstappen limped to the grid where Red Bull completed a remarkable repair job.
“I basically locked up and I came off the brakes, tried to brake again, locked again, and I just went straight on,” Verstappen said. “I was already struggling the whole lap for grip and then basically just locked up and I couldn’t get out of it, so I just went straight into the wall.
“I thought the race was over but I managed to reverse the car out of the wall. It’s like a ‘never give up’ mentality, still. Bring the car to the grid and see what happens, right? I could have jumped out there and say it’s over but the mechanics did an amazing job to repair that car and I was just very happy to start the race.
“The first lap was really good and from the onwards we made the right calls with strategy, when to box and what tire to put on, and to be able to split the two Mercedes cars in the race after such a difficult weekend for us is a great result and something we definitely didn’t expect.
“I thought I was not going to race, so to be second is like a victory today.”
With Red Bull suffering with a difficult car throughout the weekend, Verstappen says the ability of his mechanics to repair the car left him extremely motivated to repay them.
“I was very calm. I was like, ‘Let’s see if they are going to make it’ and if not then that’s it, that’s the race done, and the whole disappointing weekend would have been completed. But they did an amazing job, so I was really fired up to get back in the car and show them that the effort was not for nothing. Crazy. It was a crazy 10 to 12 minutes.”
Verstappen climbed to third with an excellent first lap and then jumped Lance Stroll in the first round of pit stops to sit second, before facing pressure from Valtteri Bottas in the closing stages. But the Dutchman says he was confident the Finn would struggle once he got close and suffered from dirty air.
“I was just trying to focus on my own pace. I can’t suddenly go half a second faster, so I was just trying to manage the tires. It was all looking quite good, but then at the end there was a bit of traffic and as soon as you get within like three seconds you get the disturbed air and especially when you are on older tires that’s not very nice. So, the last three laps were quite tricky but we managed to hang on, so of course very happy with that.”