Verstappen: "Second like a victory" after pre-race crash

Luke Smith

Verstappen crashed his car in damp conditions on the reconnaissance lap ahead of the race, causing damage to the front-end of the Red Bull RB16.

The Red Bull mechanics were forced to hurriedly fix Verstappen’s car in the build-up to lights out, but managed to complete the repairs to the front wing, nose and suspension with seconds to spare before the five-minute warning cut-off.

Verstappen led after four laps before pitting for dry tyres, and spent the remainder of the race running second behind Lewis Hamilton, fending off a late challenge from Valtteri Bottas.

“It was not how I wanted it in the beginning of course, ending up in the barriers on the laps to the grid,” Verstappen said.

“But the mechanics did amazing job to fix the car. I don't know how they did it, but incredible. To pay them back with the second place, I was very pleased with that.

“The first half was very crucial and from there on, I think we had the right calls, and we had good pace. We just kept doing our own thing and of course to be able to split the two Mercedes cars is good for us.”

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Verstappen had feared his suspension was damaged in the immediate aftermath of the crash, but said it felt “good” and “like new” once the fixes were completed.

Verstappen added: “I thought I was not going to race, so to be second is like a victory today.”

A late pit stop from Bottas with 20 laps to go saw him close up on Verstappen at a rate of almost two seconds per lap at points, only for the Finn to fall 0.750 seconds shy of P2 at the flag.

“I was just trying to do my own pace, and of course I could see he was catching at like a second lap,” Verstappen said.

“Following here is quite tricky, so as soon as he was within 1.5 seconds, it was a bit more difficult for him.

“On the last lap we had also traffic in front, which didn't make it easier for me on all those old tyres. But we managed to hang on and I am very happy with second.”