Victorious Verstappen 'had to keep pushing all the time'

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium.
© XPB 

Max Verstappen said he had been pushed to the limit in his efforts to secure victory in Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix.

Having claimed pole position in qualifying, Verstappen was able to keep the lead going into the first corner and went on to lead the first 21 laps.

But he was held up during his first pit stop by a backmarker, and when he came out it was behind Lewis Hamilton. He pulled off a pass on the Mercedes at the end of the lap, only to lose it again next time by.

Finally he was able to stamp his authority on the race and was back in the lead on lap 26, but it was still a close, back-and-forth affair all the way through right to the finish.

"Lewis was very quick so I had to keep pushing all the time," Verstappen admitted after the race. “Mercedes was quick again, but I think as a team we did a really good job with the pit stop strategy.

"[Lewis] pitted early so we had to be on top of our pitstops," he continued. "I was behind so I was pushing flat out in my outlap to try and be close to him and it was my only shot, so because of that I was close into the DRS.

""We knew we had great top speed the whole weekend already, but that was a guess and I'm very happy to have got past."

"Two times we had a good move with him, and that brought us back into first. From there onwards I could control the race with the tyres I had."

Verstappen made an extra stop during the first of two safety car periods, and the fresher tyres helped him immediately retake the lead.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB15 leads under the Safety Car.

"As a team we did a really good job," he continued. "With the pit stop strategy, especially the last one to get back on the red tyres that basically saved our race and gave us an opportunity to fight Lewis again into turn 1."

He kept the lead through a further restart a few minutes later and ultimately had a six second lead over the rest of the field by the time the chequered flag came out.

"Unbelievable. It was a lot of fun out there, and of course great to win the race," he said. "It was incredible to come out on top here.

"I don't give myself marks [out of ten] but it's been a pretty good day."

Verstappen's success in winning this year's race was lauded by Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

"It was a fantastic race," the team principal told Sky Sports F1. "He was not going to give up that win today!

"We got compromised on the pit stop with the Williams and with the unsafe release that happened but he had the benefit of a new set of tyres.

"He really used that on the out lap, and he was able to take the lead quickly again and control the race again from there."

Horner also congratulated the impressively fast work by the pit crew working on Verstappen's car today, as well as the contribution of their engine suppliers Honda.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB15 Pit Stop.

"The guys have done a great job. This sport is all about team work, and [everyone] have done well, done their part.

"All credit to Honda as well," he added. "The job they've done this year is fantastic. When you think of the difficulties they had when they came back into F1, they've kept their heads down, they've worked hard.

"To see both their teams up there on the podium for the second time this year, at a circuit that is power sensitive - to beat Ferrari, to beat Mercedes, hat's off to them!"

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