Max Verstappen says Red Bull provided him with the best car he’s had this season as he dominated the Styrian Grand Prix to extend his championship lead.
Starting from pole position, Verstappen pulled away from Lewis Hamilton in the opening stint so was never under threat from an undercut, and then eased further clear after the pit stops to the extent that Hamilton was left to chase the fastest lap. Having shown better tire management than Mercedes as well as strong pace, Verstappen says the whole package was the best it has been all year.
“It was important to have a good start, but then I think that first stint was all about managing the tires a bit,” Verstappen said. “I could see that the pace was quite strong while looking after the tires. It has sometimes been a bit different in previous races; we worked quite hard to make that better. Today that was very good.
“As soon as we stopped to go onto the hards, honestly that was a really enjoyable stint to drive. Of course we had to go through a bit of traffic with like 12 cars in a row. But once we cleared them I could keep my pace quite consistent to the end. The car was super nice to drive, which is not always the case. Today I was really enjoying it.
“Clearly the gap (is dominant), yes. But also just the balance of the car, I think was the best so far this season.”
After extending his lead in the championship to 18 points over Hamilton, Verstappen says Red Bull’s tire management has been helped by having a quicker car in recent races.
“Of course I can’t go into detail but it’s just about making sure you have the tires until the end. I think in Barcelona we didn’t have… a bit like today, where they couldn’t keep up with me in terms of pace. If you have that little bit extra pace, you can manage the lap times a bit more and that just helps the tires a lot to the end, because they’re super sensitive in terms of sliding, locking — they overheat super quick. It’s all about management at the end.”
With another race at the Red Bull Ring next weekend, Verstappen says his team is in a good position to double up and really take control of the championship.
“Of course we have to show it again next week, so we will definitely have a look at what we can do better. I am looking forward to next week … It’s looking really good. We just have to keep on going, pushing really hard and I am confident that we can do a very good job again.”