DRIVE OF THE YEAR
Max Verstappen 19th to fifth at the Russian GP
Earning the status of ‘Driver of the Day’ isn’t a bad way to celebrate your 21st birthday. It’s even more impressive when you didn’t make the podium but finished a distant fifth. Max Verstappen earned this accolade with his performance at the Russian Grand Prix, where accumulated engine penalties, plus a grid drop for a yellow flag infraction, consigned him to 19th on the grid.
After a superb start, in which he made up five positions by Turn 3, Verstappen pressed on and had made it to 11th by lap two. Having started on the soft tyre – actually the hardest of the compound choices on offer – he was able to extend the length of his first stint, inheriting the lead when those ahead of him pitted. After his stop, he emerged in fifth and charged to the flag. It was all the more impressive when you consider his Red Bull team-mate didn’t make the same progress. Dan Ricciardo made his one and only stop on lap 39, when his team changed his front wing: a piece of it had broken off on the opening lap, hindering his performance.
You narrowly voted Verstappen’s Russia drive ahead of Lewis Hamilton’s German GP win, where he too charged through the field. This begs the question: reversed grids, anyone?
“It’s great to have support from the fans as it motivates me to do well, so thank you. After the good start in the race, we took the opposite strategy to the other cars and that seemed to work well. It was just a shame that I had to make a pitstop, as otherwise I think I could have won the race. I was actually quite surprised we went through the traffic so quickly, but the car balance was very good on the day.”