Max Verstappen labelled Red Bull’s result at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as “incredible” after winning at Imola, admitting he needed a strong weekend.
Two retirements from the opening three races saw Verstappen slip 46 points behind early championship leader Charles Leclerc, with Ferrari looking strong. After taking pole on Friday, Verstappen duly beat Leclerc to win the Sprint race and followed up with maximum points in Sunday’s race, leading home a one-two as Red Bull scored 58 points from a possible 59.
“Of course Melbourne wasn’t great for us and the start of the season in general wasn’t amazing, so we needed a good weekend,” Verstappen said. “I didn’t expect it to be like this, but when you have a weekend like this, that’s incredible.
“A one-two for the team but also maximum points scored – and also the way I think we handled the race — we didn’t really make any mistakes. I think we made the right calls switching from the inters to the slicks and from there on we just controlled the race.
“It probably seemed easy on the TV but you still have to be focused, especially with backmarkers. It’s easy when you’re off-line to lock-up or go through a wet patch and go off the track. We just managed that, but the car was handling really well. We saw yesterday already in Sprint qualifying that we had good pace in the car and we could look after our tires quite nicely, so a very positive weekend.”
Verstappen’s weekend was boosted by Leclerc spinning out of third place and being limited to sixth after his error when chasing Sergio Perez, but he isn’t reading too much into the incident.
“It’s easily done. Of course, he was pushing hard to try and fight Checo, but it is painful. I think he knows that himself. He doesn’t need to hear that from anyone in here. It’s still such a long championship; you can still gain a lot of points. It’s not great but you can’t change it now. He doesn’t do it on purpose.”
He also doesn’t place any added importance on another notable moment in the race when he lapped last year’s title rival Lewis Hamilton.
“They have been slow all year so it’s not really a surprise [nor do I] feel happy lapping Lewis compared to anyone else,” he added.