Lining up eighth on the grid, Verstappen didn’t get the best launch on a greasy track and struggled over the opening lap. But the Dutchman was able to strike back throughout an action-packed race thanks to some fine overtaking manoeuvres and his team’s astute tyre strategy.
“A fourth position is a great result, definitely the best we could do,” said Verstappen. “There were some very good battles out on track and I’d say this was the most complete race of the season so far, everything worked out as it should have.
“We didn’t make any mistakes and made the call to switch [from intermediates] to dry tyres at the right time. It was very difficult to pick it because you don’t want to go too early since you might lose a lot of time. But in the end I heard over the radio someone else was on slicks and it wasn’t too bad so I said okay no we go.”
Renault-powered Vestappen was particularly pleased to keep pace with both Ferraris and their upgraded engines at Circuit of the Americas.
Having elected to stay out during the final Safety Car period, the teenager ran as high as third but could not hold off a charging Sebastian Vettel on fresher rubber in the closing stages.
Verstappen nonetheless managed to nurse his older tyres until the chequered flag to match his career-best performance from Hungary.
“I had a lot of enjoyable battles, especially with Raikkonen, maybe he didn’t enjoy it though but I did.
“[In the end] I was not trying to fight Sebastian, I was trying to save the tyres because it was quite a risky move but we managed it.”
Verstappen’s fourth consecutive points finish enables the F1 debutant to move past Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Lotus’ Romain Grosjean in the Drivers’ standings, where the 18-year-old now occupies 10th place with 45 points.
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