After dominating Saturday’s F1 Sprint in Spielberg, Sunday proved to be much more of challenge for Max Verstappen, as he couldn’t fend off the charging Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, who overtook him three times over the course of the 71 laps to win at the Red Bull Ring.
The Dutchman explained that tyre degradation was the key in his struggles during the race, meaning he could not carefully manage his Pirelli rubber the way he would like to, leaving him vulnerable to the constant pressure coming from Leclerc and also Carlos Sainz, before his late engine failure.
“It was a tricky day. Immediately it seemed like we were struggling quite a bit with the tyres, and that basically continued on every single compound. Too much degradation to really attack Charles [Leclerc] especially.
“I mean, if you look at the whole race, we were lacking pace – just a lot of [tyre] degradation. And I don’t really understand why it was that bad.
“It looked like Carlos [Sainz] was also going to overtake me, but then, unfortunately, of course he encountered engine trouble.
“Nevertheless, still, a second place is a good result for us on a difficult day.”
When asked about what exactly were the inconsistencies with his rubber, Verstappen explained a pure lack of grip was the main problem.
“It’s been a bit more tricky than I expected it to be today, but sometimes these things can happen. Just no grip. And I could not manage my tyres like I wanted, because they were just degrading a lot.”
Asked whether Ferrari now has an edge in raw pace or if the Austrian circuit suited their F1-75 better, Verstappen said it’s “difficult to tell”, and reiterated Red Bull had “a bit of an off day” in terms of performance, and to only lose five points to Leclerc over the weekend is “not too bad”:
“Really difficult to tell, but it seemed like we really had a bit of an off day, and they had a very strong day. At the end, to only lose five points over a weekend is not too bad on a bad day.”
Verstappen said he feels “sorry” for both Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez, as they retired from the race due to an engine failure and mechanical damage respectively, saying the points loss is “bad for both”:
“I think it’s just bad for both [teams]. I feel sorry for Carlos, I feel sorry for Checo, that they don’t score points, because it’s not nice when you have these kind of issues. For myself, I always try to maximise everything I can,” he concluded.