Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2017

Verstappen doubts he could have passed Hamilton

2017 Japanese Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says it’s unlikely he would have been able to make a pass for the win had he not been held up by traffic at Suzuka.

The Red Bull driver finished second behind Lewis Hamilton and closed within striking distance of the Mercedes in the closing laps.

Start, Suzuka, 2017
2017 Japanese GP in pictures
“The traffic gave me a bit of a chance to close up and potentially have a chance to take him,” said Verstappen. “It was a bit of a shame the backmarkers came into play but I don’t think it made a big difference, once Lewis had clean air I would have struggled to pass him. It just seems that the Mercedes struggle when following other cars closely.”

Verstappen closed on Hamilton when the pair caught Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, who were fighting over the last points place. Alonso was later penalised for taking too long to let Hamilton by.

“Our car was very competitive in the corners but it meant we lost a bit on the straights and weren’t ever really able to have a proper go at it,” said Verstappen.

“The degradation on the soft was really good and the balance felt good throughout the race, which is really positive in terms of finishing the season strongly. Lewis had some difficulties when he had traffic in front but at the end of the day he was controlling it.”

Having only finished on the podium once in the first 14 races, Verstappen has now reached the rostrum in both of the last rounds, a trend he hopes to continue in the next race.

“In the race it seems we are always more competitive than qualifying, so I’m looking ahead to Austin and hoping we can carry this form on and get another podium,” he said.

2017 Japanese Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 7 comments on “Verstappen doubts he could have passed Hamilton”

    1. The real attack was nullified by Bottas earlier in the race. Bottas who took the team order and gifted his place to lewis and did his best to hold up Verstappen.

      1. And yet MV doesn’t complain about that and would have expected it. VB didn’t really ‘gift’ LH the place though. Only ahead because of the pitting, LH the one with the WDC shot, VB did everything as he should have as a team member in his position. I’m sure an ‘order’ was not needed for VB to know exactly what he had to do.

        1. @robbie Valtteri gifted track position to Lewis, not the actual place indeed. However, Verstappen probably would’ve made a move on the next lap or so.

          But Valtteri was actually given a team order, Lewis asked for it and he clearly made room shortly after that.

          I do feel this is the right outcome though, Hamilton winning and Verstappen second, but I don’t like team orders and #2 drivers.

          1. Fair comment. I just consider when an order is a no-brainer vs when it is some tough team decision that causes controversy or strife and polarizes fans and sometimes even sides of the garage. This was not that.

          2. Valtteri wasn’t racing Lewis or Max at that point in the race, so it would have been counterproductive to team Mercedes’ strategy to have him hold up Lewis. Calling it a “gift” is an oversimplification. What F1 fan really expected anything different, or would even have expected different (ie: stupid) from any other team?

    2. On Sky Max said he would also have slowed himself with Bottas.
      So he accepted it as fair to use the team mate.

    3. ““The traffic gave me a bit of a chance to close up and potentially have a chance to take him,””

      Simon and Crofty from Sky kept saying “We’ll never know what would have happened had Verstappen not been held up by traffic.” I gained a lot of respect for Max after he corrected them and said the above. Even though everybody watching knew that already. Sometimes ….

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