Max Verstappen says he maximizing every opportunity and can’t do any more with the car he has at his disposal after finishing second in the Spanish Grand Prix.
Mercedes has been extremely dominant in qualifying, with Red Bull occasionally more of a threat in race trim. After winning in Silverstone last week, Verstappen had hoped to challenge again in Barcelona but Lewis Hamilton cruised to victory at the front, with the Dutchman admitting he was content with second place by beating Valtteri Bottas in the other Mercedes.
“The start was OK and then I could get into the tow of Lewis, so I could get past Valtteri into Turn 1,” Verstappen said. “From there I tried to follow Lewis a bit; initially it was just managing tires so I tried to back out of it as well, but of course Valtteri’s got back into P3 so you can’t drop back too much.
“Then as soon as Lewis started to push a bit more I couldn’t follow the same pace, and yeah, he just drove off. From then onwards I just tried to do my own pace and do the fastest strategy that we could do to stay ahead of Valtteri and that worked out quite well today so I’m happy about that.
“We split the two Mercedes cars again so I don’t think there is much more I can do at the moment.”
After Toto Wolff called Verstappen the favorite for victory on Saturday night, Verstappen says he is only worrying about his own performance rather than anything Mercedes says or does.
“Clearly we were not in the race, I don’t pay too much attention to it, we just focus on ourselves and not – like I said in the race as well we have to focus on ourselves and not to look too much at others, what they say and what they do because at the end of the day you can not control that anyway.
“So we just have to focus on ourselves, try to improve, try to be a bit more competitive and not just rely on softer compounds or blistering. We just have to find a bit more performance in the car and the engine to be a bit more competitive.”
Verstappen says that same approach is what led to his slightly frustrated radio messages to his engineer when being informed about gaps to the Mercedes drivers in the second stint, having already been unhappy at having to wait for his first pit stop.
“At the end of the day you can’t control what they’re doing — you can only control what we do so we just have to make sure we do the fastest strategy possible for us.
“I wanted to pit, and they didn’t call me in. I was massively struggling on the tires and I lost quite a lot of lap time over the last two laps and I already said on the radio, I don’t care if you put me out behind the Racing Points because I will pass them easily, because we’re a lot faster, especially on new tires. So that was the conversation.”