Max Verstappen admitted he didn’t think he was going to win the Austrian Grand Prix until the final three laps.
The Red Bull driver had to manage blistering on his rear tyres in the final laps. Verstappen said he was concerned the Ferrari drivers had more performance in hand to attack him with.Kimi [Raikkonen] was catching, Sebastian [Vettel] was catching and you were not sure maybe they had another half a second in them at the end of the race, so it was just difficult to say.
“I think with three or four laps to go I was more comfortable and it was not going to happen. But still, maybe from one to the other lap my blister opens up even more and then you’re really in trouble. Probably three laps.”
Verstappen passed Raikkonen at the start of the race and then had the two Mercedes drivers in front of him.
“I saw Valtteri [Bottas] disappearing with a problem, and then I think we made the right call when the Virtual Safety Car came out, that we pitted. The team, again, great call on that.”
Lewis Hamilton didn’t pit during the VSC period, which meant Verstappen was “virtually in the lead.”
Verstappen said he “tried to manage the gap” towards the end of the race but “I could see my tyres also opening up a bit on the rears and the fronts.”
“So I just had to drive around the issue and luckily I could manage it until the end of the race.”
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