Max Verstappen says his pit exit that led to him emerging ahead of Charles Leclerc but face a protest from Ferrari was the most fun part of his Monaco Grand Prix.
The championship leader qualified fourth after a red flag ended Saturday’s final session early, but Red Bull’s strategy helped him jump polesitter Leclerc for third when switching to slick tires. On a wet track with cold tires, Verstappen nearly slid wide out of the pit exit – a Ferrari protest was rejected and he came home third behind Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz.
“I needed it, otherwise he would have passed me because you would not have the traction,” Verstappen said. “So, my pit exit was quite… probably that was the most fun I had in the race, just my pit exit, trying to stay ahead. Which summed up my race a bit.
“Of course after , not being able to do that final lap, you know you have to start fourth and you know your race is going to be a bit compromised. But it’s all about just trying to maximize the result and I think, as a team, we did that. We had good pace. All the laps I had in clean air, they felt right.
“Then the call to go with the medium at the end was quite risky, I think, compared to just staying on a hard tire. Especially because I think we didn’t really know how many laps were going to be left.
“But I saw that the two cars in front of me started to grain a bit. Checo has quite a lot of front graining and Carlos was struggling a bit with the rear.
“From my side it’s just impossible to pass. But my balance felt all right, and I could actually be really close. If I wanted to, I could have bumped Carlos a few times in the hairpin. Maybe he would have liked it!”
With Leclerc finishing behind him in fourth, Verstappen’s lead in the championship has grown to nine points and he admits it’s an unexpected bonus.
“As a team, we did a really good job with the strategy to get ahead of the Ferraris. I think as a whole team we can be very pleased with the Sunday.
“I mean, it was a very hectic one with the rain and stuff, but I think we executed it well and I extended my points lead which I didn’t expect so I think that’s a positive.
“I have to say the team was very relaxed and on it with their calls. Like very straightforward. There was no doubt: it was like ‘pit now, we go on this tire’; ‘pit now again we go on this tire’. They did a really good job with that.”
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