Max Verstappen says his victory in the Monaco Grand Prix is a boost for Red Bull Racing but leading the drivers’ championship is less significant than the win itself.
Red Bull looked to have the quickest car in pre-season testing but Verstappen won just one of the first four races, with Lewis Hamilton victorious three times as Mercedes recovered strongly. But Verstappen’s win in Monaco — coupled with Hamilton finishing seventh — enabled the Dutchman take the lead in the title fight for the first time.
“If we’re still there at the end of the season that would be great, because there’s still a long way to go,” Verstappen said. “Of course it’s great to bounce back after the last two races where the gap got bigger, and we still have to work hard because we know that Mercedes on normal tracks are still the ones to beat. But a good, smooth weekend overall, I think, and this is a great boost for the whole team going forward.”
The result is the first time Verstappen has finished on the podium in Monaco, and he says it’s a special result even if he wasn’t challenged too heavily.
“It’s been an amazing day. Once we had the lead in Turn 1 from there we could manage the pace quite well and look after the tires, because around here it’s just all about keeping them alive basically and trying to go as long as you can and find the pit gap. But I think Valtteri (Bottas) was struggling a bit at one point with his tires and he had to pit.
“It always looks like it’s going quite smoothly but round here keeping your concentration for so long is not easy. But super-happy to win here.”
Verstappen admitted he felt sorry for Charles Leclerc pre-race, as the Monegasque failed to start from pole position due to a driveshaft issue.
“Of course it’s sad for Charles. I mean, starting on pole here at his home grand prix, it’s never nice to not even do the start. But I think quite quickly you have to shift your focus to yourself and on your race. Of course we still had to start in second, which I think was not a great spot to start on the outside. For me, I thought it was going to be good but I had a bit of wheelspin so I had to cut across; luckily I stayed in first but the grip wasn’t amazing.”