Max Verstappen said he was “lucky – and unlucky” after finishing second behind Lewis Hamilton’s ‘three-wheel’ Mercedes in Sunday’s dramatic British Grand Prix.
The Red Bull driver and his race crew believed they might have had a chance of victory as Hamilton and his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas both suffered tyre failures in the closing laps.
But instead of staying out on his worn set of hard tyres to seek his first win of the season, Verstappen came in under orders to take a new set of tyres and deliver the fastest lap of the race.
Bottas had slowed and pitted on lap 50, gifting second to Verstappen when it was not apparent that Hamilton, more than half a minute clear, would suffer similar problems en route to his 87th career victory.
In the end, Verstappen closed the gap to 5.8 seconds as Hamilton limped across the line and the Dutchman expressed some frustration on the team radio before reconciling himself to the runners-up spot.
“We did good, not bad,” he said. “Good points, good podium. We did well. We should be happy with second, but when you have this… Anyway, it’s still good.”
After reflecting on events more carefully, he later said: “I mean, it’s lucky and unlucky, you know.
“They (Mercedes) were too quick for us in the race. And, yeah, the tyres at one point they didn’t look great. With like 10 laps ago, I was already on the radio: ‘guys, you know, the right front doesn’t look very pretty.’
“Then Valtteri got a puncture and was back on the radio and they boxed me to go for the fastest lap. And then, of course, unfortunately Lewis got a puncture himself, but, you know, I’m very happy with second.”
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner agreed with Verstappen and revealed that his front left tyre was almost finished.
“The tyre that has come off Max’s car has a deep groove,” he said.
“There’s no guarantee that he would have won the race. Lewis rode his luck and managed to get the car home.”