Max finishes 3rd in Spanish Grand Prix: 'Car was handling really well'

Published on 13 May 2018 by Raymond Snip

Max Verstappen took his first podium of the season by finishing third in the Spanish Grand Prix. The Dutchman was able to hold his fifth place on the grid after the start.  The retirement of Kimi Raikkonen and a pit stop for Sebastian Vettel during a Virtual Safety car period, led Verstappen to the third place. Despite damage to his front wing due to an incident with back marker Lance Stroll, Verstappen managed to keep Vettel behind and secure the third place. Lewis Hamilton raced to a dominant victory, with Mercedes-Benz Valtteri Bottas almost twenty seconds behind.

After the race a satisfied Max replies: "When you start fifth, this is just very good. As you know, it is very difficult to pass here, but we stayed close to everyone in front of us. We were obviously lucky with Kimi retiring, but we were also just faster. Then we could continue for a long time on the soft tyre, which was very positive. Once we were on the mediums, it was fine, despite the trouble with the front wing. The tyres worked very well, so that gave us the third position today."

According to the Dutchman an attack on the second place of Bottas in the final phase, was no longer possible: "I knew that I could not really attack Valtteri, unless he got problems with his tyres, which he did not. Therefore, it was important to drive that third-place home, although of course I had to keep pushing with Sebastian behind me. I also hoped that my front wing would hold up. It did not look great, but it was all right. I had the most trouble in the fast corners, so then I adjusted some things on the steering wheel and then it was not so bad. In general, you lose a little more downforce because of that, so it is never ideal."

Finally, the next race in Monaco offers an excellent opportunity for a good result, Max thinks: "The car has done very well. We know we are in a dis-advantage on the straight, so I'm curious to see what we can do in Monaco."

It is raining on Sunday morning at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Before the start of the race the threat of rain has not yet passed, but the track is completely dry. Max has a great start from his fifth grid spot and he is able to keep his position. In turn three, things go bad for Romain Grosjean. The Frenchman spins in his Haas and is hit by the oncoming Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly. With a lot of damage, the three drivers have to retire from the race. Due to the large amount of debris on the track, the safety car is being deployed.

After thorough cleaning up, the race restarts in lap 7. At the restart Max is alert and is close behind Raikkonen. Hamilton, Vettel and Bottas are driving in the first three spots. No changes take place in the following laps. Verstappen is about one and a half seconds behind Raikkonen and is stuck behind the Finnish driver.

Vettel is the first of the leaders to make a pit stop in lap 18. The Ferrari driver switches his soft tyres for a set of mediums. Two laps later, Bottas also makes a pitstop and falls back behind Vettel. Verstappen moves to the third place.

In lap 25 Kimi Raikkonen suddenly is running slow around the track due to a problem with his turbo. This makes Max move up another a spot. The Finn parks his Ferrari in the garage and is the fourth driver to retire from the race. When Hamilton makes his stop one lap later, Max takes the lead in the race.

On his new tyres, Hamilton closes in fast on leader Verstappen, but he does not get past the Dutchman. In lap 35 Verstappen comes in to change to a fresh set of mediums. After an error-free stop, Max comes back on the track in fourth spot.

In lap 41, Esteban Ocon stops alongside the track with technical difficulties. There is a short-lived Virtual Safety car period to move the Force India car behind the guardrail. Vettel takes the opportunity to make his second stop. With this he falls back behind Verstappen, which put the Dutchman in P3. When the Virtual Safety car is over, Verstappen hits a slow-moving Lance Stroll, causing a piece of the RB14's front wing to come loose. The Dutchman does not seem to suffer much as he can hold his third spot.

In lap 48 Stoffel Vandoorne’ engine quits on the straight at start / finish. The Belgian driver parks his McLaren in a safe spot, so the safety car stays in. Despite his damaged front wing, Verstappen manages to keep a two second gap to Vettel. In the final phase of the race, Max has to save fuel, bringing Vettel closer, yet Max manages to secure his third place to score his first podium of the season. At the top, Hamilton takes a dominant victory. Far behind, teammate Bottas makes for a one-two for Mercedes. Daniel Ricciardo finishes fifth. Behind him, Kevin Magnussen, the home drivers Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc complete the top ten.

Results Grand Prix Spain:

1Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes661:35:29.97225
2Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes66+20.593s18
3Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer66+26.873s15
4Sebastian VettelVETFerrari66+27.584s12
5Daniel RicciardoRICRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer66+50.058s10
6Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari65+1 lap8
7Carlos SainzSAIRenault65+1 lap6
8Fernando AlonsoALOMcLaren Renault65+1 lap4
9Sergio PerezPERForce India Mercedes64+2 laps2
10Charles LeclercLECSauber Ferrari64+2 laps1
11Lance StrollSTRWilliams Mercedes64+2 laps0
12Brendon HartleyHARScuderia Toro Rosso Honda64+2 laps0
13Marcus EricssonERISauber Ferrari64+2 laps0
14Sergey SirotkinSIRWilliams Mercedes63+3 laps0
0Stoffel VandoorneVANMcLaren Renault45DNF0
0Esteban OconOCOForce India Mercedes38DNF0
0Kimi RäikkönenRAIFerrari25DNF0
0Romain GrosjeanGROHaas Ferrari0DNF0
0Pierre GaslyGASScuderia Toro Rosso Honda0DNF0
0Nico HulkenbergHULRenault0DNF0