The grid penalty made for an unpleasant start to the Qatar Grand Prix, but Max Verstappen only needed four laps to restore order. Lewis Hamilton was elusive but with a second place plus the point for fastest lap, Verstappen kept the damage limited.
Verstappen was given a hard slap on the fingers for ignoring a double yellow in Q3 yesterday, as a result he tumbled from second place to P7. “I knew what was coming, last night actually. I never get presents so I saw it coming. I thought it was a bit crooked, the race management released it but a local marshall kept waving yellow. But it is what it is,” Verstappen told Ziggo Sports.
But it soon became clear that the differences between Hamilton and Verstappen and the rest of the field are huge this season. “I was extra motivated, they can’t get me down. The first lap was important but after that you could see that we lacked speed. But I never give up, I keep going until the end and then we’ll see where it comes out.”
“Of course the start was in jeopardy because of that penalty, but luckily we got away very well. I was quickly second so that was nice, the fastest lap is also good. It will be very difficult at the end of the season.”
A victory was therefore not in it today and so Verstappen had to get the pleasure from other things. “It was a great race, this is a nice track. It’s super fast, really fun to drive. The wear and tear was also manageable.” With two races to go, the difference is now only 8 points with Hamilton, in Verstappen’s favor.
Yet the Dutchman also seems to realize that Hamilton currently has the faster car. “I’m feeling good, it’s just going to be a really hard fight to the end. Hopefully we can hold the lead until the end.”