He was actually supposed to start the race from P2, but Max Verstappen was told more than an hour before the start that he was being put back to P7. The reason? He had ignored double yellow flags during qualifying and was therefore given a five-place grid penalty.
As luck would have it, he stood on the clean line and made a rocket launch. “Yes, it was a very good start”, the Dutchman still enjoys after the race. He rode on the medium tires while the guys in front of him stood on the soft rubber. So he didn’t know what to expect.
“It is difficult to predict, because there were of course a lot of people around me on the soft tyre. The two drivers in front of me (Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz, ed.) However, were on the medium tire and it is also a new circuit .”
Verstappen didn’t know what could happen
Verstappen got away very well, he recalls. “Even before the first corner I was in fourth place. Then you arrive at corner one without much experience (with starts on this circuit, ed.), so you don’t know what is possible and what can happen .”
“However, I picked the right line on the way to turn one and the other cars got a little wider so that was really nice. It was a lot of fun, but also hectic of course. You have to be careful not to get damaged or anything like that during such an opening round,” said the Dutchman.