A relieved Max Verstappen admitted he had struggled for pace in his Red Bull on Sunday after he resisted late pressure from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz to win the Canadian Grand Prix.
The 24-year-old Dutchman, who started his 150th F1 race from pole position, had to defend vigilantly in his Red Bull against the Ferrari for 15 laps after a late Safety Car allowed the Spaniard to fit fresh medium compound tyres.
“That Safety Car didn’t help me,” said Verstappen. “He had fresh tyres and those last 15 laps were flat out and when it is like that you can’t make a mistake.
“I would have preferred to have been attacking at the end, instead of defending, but luckily for us it all worked out and it was very exciting.”
Verstappen now leads Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who retired with transmission problems, by 46 points in the title race.
He admitted that he never felt comfortable in the race.
“It was generally a very tough race and I really wanted more pace from the car. The Ferrari was very strong and I really had to match him.
“He had more pace than me. Absolutely, today. But the two teams are so closely matched.”
His team-mate Perez, who came into the weekend on a run of strong form, said: “I was stuck in gear and it was a drive issue. Very disappointing. Very painful for me and the team.”
Team boss Christian Horner said the team had lost communications contact with Verstappen during the race.
““We could hear him, but he couldn’t hear us,” he said. “But perhaps he didn’t need to!”