Max Verstappen says he couldn’t imagine such a dominant weekend at the Belgian Grand Prix after winning easily from 14th on the grid at Spa-Francorchamps.
Red Bull fitted a new power unit in Verstappen’s car earlier in the weekend so the championship leader knew he would start at the back of the grid, but he duly set the fastest time in qualifying by over 0.6s. Starting 14th due to other penalties, Verstappen was in the lead as early as lap 12 and overtook Carlos Sainz after his first pit stop to pull away and win by over 18 seconds.
“I think if you look at the whole weekend, the car has been incredible from FP1,” Verstappen said. “I don’t think we expected it to be like this. But you know, sometimes it’s nice when things positively surprise you. It’s been really enjoyable to drive the car around here this year.
“Of course, we knew we had our difficulties for the race when you start P14. But yeah, we stayed out of trouble on lap one, which wasn’t easy. It was very hectic in front of me, but once everything calmed down with the safety car, it was literally just overtaking one car every lap. And once I was back into P3, and I saw that my tires were actually holding on quite nicely with the soft compound, I knew that there was a good possibility we could win the race.
“It’s been a weekend I couldn’t imagine before, but I think we want more of them, so we keep on working hard.”
Despite the predictions of others, Verstappen says he wasn’t considering winning the race given how many cars he was going to have to pass due to his lowly grid position.
“To be honest, I didn’t even think about it yesterday. I just wanted to have a good race and I knew that as soon as I was out of trouble after lap one that we could have a good race. But I never really think about what lap I’m going to lead because it’s impossible to imagine.
“I think our car is very efficient, and then this track, I think, suits it perfectly, maybe. So I know that some tracks which are coming up might be a little bit more difficult, and I expect…a good battle with Ferrari, it was just that this track seemed to be perfect for the car.”
Given the way Spa suited Red Bull, Verstappen insists he is expecting a tighter battle with Ferrari on a different circuit in Zandvoort next weekend.
“I don’t expect it to be like this. Just because of the track layout, more downforce on the car to get round, less straights as well. So definitely will be closer than here.”