Max on attack Hamilton: 'Could see it coming'

Published on 04 August 2019 by Kees-Jan Koster

Max Verstappen finished second today during the Hungarian Grand Prix. The Dutchman, also Driver of the Day, started from pole position, but was not able to keep Lewis Hamilton behind during the second part of the race. The team of Mercedes called the Brit after forty-nine laps in for a second pitstop, which allowed the fivefold world champion to close the gap to Verstappen, who was driving on much older medium tyres.

Verstappen explains after the race the choice to stay out: “To come in would not have made sense because I would have been behind Lewis. Then you know the race is lost anyway. The only option was for me to continue and that is what we did. At one point I started to run out of tyres, trying to keep it within a second. That was almost impossible, and you can see it coming that Lewis was going to pass me.”

Lapping the backmarkers did not help according to Max: "On the first tyre we were still competitive in the last sector and Lewis did not really have a chance. And then when we got on the hard tyre, I could not do my normal lines because of the traffic. That gave Lewis the chance to catch up with me. If Mercedes had stayed on that one stop, I think I could have kept him behind. But once Lewis was on the medium you know it is going to be really hard."

The Mercedes of Hamilton was today the faster car any way, according to Max: “We have to be realistic and determine that he was clearly faster today. During the whole race I was struggling a bit more for grip than Lewis and he was able to keep the pressure on. When you are in second position you can gamble to do a two-stop, I had to try and cover him and stay ahead.”

In the final phase of the race the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver made an extra pitstop to go for the fastest lap. His attempt was successful: “In the end we made an extra pitstop and I was happy to do the fastest lap”, says Max. “In the end it is still an extra point. Hopefully at the end of the year it will matter, we will see.”

According to Verstappen, the race of today clearly showed that the German formation of Mercedes is still the dominant factor: “It shows how much margin they have when they really need to push. Lewis was on fire today, but once he really has to go for it you can see that Mercedes still has the dominant car. Of course in Austria they had issues with overheating and the conditions in Hockenheim were tricky so they could not drive to the limit of the car, but today both of us were pushing flat out and then you can see what they are capable of as a team.”

Nevertheless, the Dutchman is in good spirits about closing the gap to the top even further: “We have updates coming to the car and the engine, so hopefully that will bring us closer again. We will find out then.”

Max concludes with a review of the first half of the season. What mark does Verstappen give himself? “I do not give myself a mark”, says the down-to-earth Max. “I am always quite critical, and I think it can always be better. I had good results during the first half of the season, but there are always thinks to work on.”