Max Verstappen believes giving up track position to Mercedes was the crucial factor in Red Bull’s Bahrain Grand Prix defeat.Lewis Hamilton after the Mercedes driver made his first pit stop four laps earlier than him.
The Red Bull driver was able to mount a strong challenge for the win in the dying laps of the race, but lost out after a bold overtaking move at turn four was deemed illegal by race control and Verstappen was advised to yield the lead back to Hamilton.
Verstappen said he enjoyed the battle with the Mercedes, but the difficulties he faced trying to pass Hamilton demonstrated showed the importance of keeping track position.
“It’s disappointing to be second. It just shows again that track position is super-important, even when you think you have the better tyres.
“I was closing quite comfortably but then when I got close [to] Lewis, with how the wind was today in those critical low-speed corners, I just had no grip. Still better grip than Lewis, but not enough to really make a difference.”
Having lost the lead in the first round of pit stops, Verstappen used tyres that were 10 laps fresher than those of Hamilton in the final stint to close within striking distance of the Mercedes.
“With this car, that advantage goes away very quickly once you get within one and a half seconds,” explains Verstappen. “With these cars, I think the last few years, it is very important to have track position, and we gave that up today.
“That one lap I had a shot at him, I think also the backmarker [Antonio Giovinazzi] was not really helping him, giving him a bit of a snap, so that was not ideal.
“I ran a bit wide out of turn four, so I had to give the position back and then it was just impossible any more to really go for it. I was always just too far behind. We’ll analyse what we can do better. Clearly today showed that track position was key again.”
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