Max Verstappen thinks that he was in a better position to win the Monaco Grand Prix than eventual race winner and teammate Sergio Perez after a “risky” and “quite tricky” stint on softer medium tyres in the latter stages of the race.
Perez took his third-ever Grand Prix victory in Monaco, having surprisingly had the advantage over reigning champion teammate Verstappen throughout the weekend. The Ferrari looked however to be a faster car than the Red Bull in Monaco, but strategic mistakes and badly timed traffic arguably cost both Ferraris the win.
The eventual P2 finisher Sainz even went as far as entirely putting the blame on the Williams of Nicholas Latifi, who seemingly failed to move over for the blue flags for Sainz for almost all of the Spaniard’s crucial out lap. He believes Latifi was responsible for costing him a chance at the victory.
Due to the unpredictable nature of the weather, and when the crossover period between slick, intermediate and wet tyres came about, track positions were made and lost on fine margins which led to some being ‘stuck’ behind others on the narrow Monaco streets. Another area where there were fine margins to be exploited was at the pit exit, whereby both Red Bull drivers were investigated post-race for allegedly crossing the yellow exit line after Ferrari lodged a protest.
“Yeah, I needed it,” Verstappen revealed when queried on how he pushed the limits at the pit exit. “I mean, otherwise [Leclerc] would have passed me because you would not have the traction. Probably that was the most fun I had in the race, just my pit exit, trying to stay ahead which summed up a bit my race.
“I mean, of course, after qualifying, not being able to do that final lap, you know you have to start fourth and your race is going to be a bit compromised. But it’s all about just trying to maximise the result and I think, as a team, we did that [in the race],” he summed up.
Verstappen thinks the decision from his team to fit him with a set of medium tyres in the final red flag period – deployed after Mick Schumacher’s accident – was a “risky” one compared to following the expected route of hard tyres.
“We had good pace,” said Verstappen. “I mean, all the laps I had in clean air, they felt right. And then the call to go with the medium at the end was quite risky, I think, compared to just staying on a hard tyre. Especially also because I think we didn’t really know how many laps were going to be left, but I saw that the two cars in front of me started to grain a bit.
“When I saw my mediums on the car, I thought it’s going to be quite a tricky one to the end, but luckily I still had decent tyres to the end. I mean, of course, they’re not in the best shape, but they felt alright. But when you’re following closely you start wearing them more as well.
“Checo has quite a lot of front graining and Carlos was struggling a bit with the rear. And yeah, from my side it’s just impossible to pass. But my balance felt alright, and I could actually be really close. If I wanted to, I could have bumped Carlos a few times in the hairpin. Maybe he would have liked it.
“So yeah, it was getting close at the end but even with getting close, the problem is always the acceleration out of the corner. Like you can be in the gearbox but you can never pass because they always gain two or three-tenths, and that’s just enough, of course, to then defend or whatever – drive in the middle of the track,” summed up Verstappen.
The championship leader also explained how he believed it was a “good call” from the race director to implement rolling start procedures during the race, rather than typical standing starts, which ultimately benefited Verstappen who would have started the original start from the disadvantaged side of the grid.
“We already did a few laps on the hard tyres, so they were a bit cold but of course, at the end, it doesn’t really matter [what tyres you start the race on], because it was going to be a rolling start,” said Verstappen. “[If it was a] standing start, of course, it might make a difference but anyway, it wouldn’t have been fair if it had been a standing start, just because the left side was still quite wet. And that’s why it was a good call to do a rolling start.
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