Max Verstappen was “not happy” when the Safety Car was deployed in the closing stages of the Canadian Grand Prix because he expected it would leave him vulnerable to Carlos Sainz Jnr.
“We did our strategy and I think for us it worked,” said Verstappen. “At that second stop, of course, I had the fresher tyres, I was closing in on Carlos, but I was not sure if I actually would fully close that gap to the end of the race.”
Sainz had slightly quicker pace in the opening stages of the race and Verstappen was concerned it would be difficult to contain the Ferrari driver once the Safety Car was deployed.
“The Safety Car came out and I was not very happy with that because then I knew, of course, that he would have fresh tyres behind me. And already with a little bit more pace compared to me, and it’s difficult to defend.”
Once the race restarted Sainz applied considerable pressure to Verstappen, opening his DRS on lap after lap in an effort to pass the Red Bull driver. But he wasn’t able to find a way past and Verstappen took the win.
“The last 15 or 16 laps we were flat-out, pushing to the limit,” said Verstappen. “I knew, of course, that I couldn’t make a mistake.
“But it was good racing. It’s always more enjoyable to be able to really push in a Formula 1 car instead of just saving your tyres.”
Verstappen said the race had been “a bit more difficult than I expected” and he “expected to have a little bit more pace, but we seemed to lack a little bit compared to Carlos.”
With his closest championship rivals faring less well – Sergio Perez failed to score and Charles Leclerc took fifth – Verstappen now holds a healthy 46-point lead at the top of the standings. However he remains wary that his advantage could quickly be reversed.
“It’s still a very long way,” he said. “I know the gap is quite big but I also know that it can switch around very quickly.
“I mean, race three I was 46 behind. So we just need to stay calm, we need to focus, we need to improve, because today we’re not the quickest.
“It swings a bit, like last weekend it looked good in the race, now it didn’t look as good but we still managed to win and that I think is also a quality and we just have to work together with the whole team to try and just find little improvements in the car.”
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