Max Verstappen said he could see himself losing the lead of the Spanish Grand Prix during the early laps, as Lewis Hamilton was clearly faster.
However, Verstappen said after the race he knew there was a chance of losing the lead by the end of his initial, 24-lap stint on the soft tyre.
“In a way I could see it coming already. At the end [on] the softs, he was faster and when we put on the mediums he was clearly had a lot more pace, he could just stay within one second so there was not much we could’ve done.”
Hamilton eventually passed Verstappen after making an extra pit stop for another set of medium tyres.
“They went for another stop and then I knew it was over because I was already struggling with the tyres and you could see that every lap he was getting closer and closer so. [I was] a bit of a sitting duck.”
Red Bull opted not to pit Verstappen a second time, in response to Mercedes’ strategy with Hamilton. He said that the choice was difficult either way.
“When you’re in the lead, with the cars behind, with traffic and so on you don’t want to pit in traffic but of course it makes it a lot easier when you have a pace advantage. They clearly have more pace in the cars.
“So for us, even if we had jumped for another stop, I’m not sure if we would have caught up again but nevertheless, I tried everything I could.”
Verstappen did pit a second time, after being passed by Hamilton, in order to take the fastest lap bonus point.
Nonetheless, he said there was clearly work for Red Bull to do. “It shows that we are not there, where we want to be. So we have to push hard and catch up because at the moment, we are a little bit slower. But still, nevertheless, compared to last year, I think it’s been a big jump forwards.
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2021 Spanish Grand Prix
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