Verstappen happy to make ‘very hard’ one-stopper work

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Max Verstappen says his last 10 laps at the Austrian Grand Prix were “very hard”, with the Red Bull ace managing to make the race a one-stopper for a second career podium finish.

Having lined up eighth on the grid, the Dutchman enjoyed a strong getaway and quickly got up to fourth before Sebastian Vettel’s spectacular tyre failure promoted him into the top three.

“It was a great start, also good first laps, straight away I could see the pace was there on the car,” Verstappen said, “So I just moved up to the front and once I cleared some guys, I just tried to go into my own rhythm. The Mercedes are still a bit too quick, but everything was going quite well.”

Having switched from the supersoft to the soft tyre on lap 25, Verstappen then managed to go all the way until the end of the 71-lap contest whereas team-mate Daniel Ricciardo pitted for fresh rubber.

The 18-year-old fended off a charging Kimi Raikkonen in the closing stages, while Nico Rosberg’s collision with Lewis Hamilton promoted him up to second under the flag.

“I did a long stint on the soft tyre,” Verstappen added. “The last ten laps, which included some traffic, made it very hard. I could see Kimi behind me catching up a lot.

“In the end, to come up second with what happened in the last lap is of course a bonus. Also to finish here in second as a Red Bull driver at the Red Bull Ring is just a great feeling.”

This might sound like an ominous statement for his rivals, but Verstappen, who became F1’s youngest winner ever at this year's Spanish Grand Prix after a similar tyre strategy call, insists there is much more to come from him.

“You can always improve, you can always do better. Like I said from the first race [with Red Bull] in Barcelona, I am still learning. The general pace is there. It’s just in qualifying how to get the last bits 100 percent. But definitely race by race it’s getting better and better.”

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