Verstappen: fourth was ‘maximised result’ for Red Bull

Max Verstappen says that fourth place in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix was as good as Red Bull were going to get in Shanghai this weekend.

He admitted that the RB15 simply didn’t have the pace to take on their Mercedes and Ferrari rivals in a straight fight and that to have come out on top of Charles Leclerc in the strategic battle had been an unexpected bonus.

“We maximised the result,” he told the media after the end of the race. “I think as a team we did a good job today, to undercut Ferrari and stay ahead as well.

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“I think there was not much in it, I was pushing really hard to stay with them,” he continued. “I had a good battle with Seb, but even after that you could clearly see that we didn’t have the pace to fight.”

His wheel-to-wheel clash with the four time world champion following their first pit stops was one of the highlights of the afternoon. Having pitted first, Verstappen’s tyres were up to temperature and he caught Vettel going into turn 14.

A late lunge put him side-by-side with the Ferrari round the hairpin, but Vettel defended and ultimately came out on top.

“At least I tried!” said Verstappen. “It was fun, but then I settled for fourth.”

Whether that’s likely to be the story of the rest of the season for Verstappen and Red Bull remains to be seen.

“I think every weekend so far is a bit of a guess, what you are doing and how competitive you are as well,” he said. “You never know.”

China was also a welcome good result for Verstappen’s team mate Pierre Gasly, who held on to the sixth place where he had qualified on Saturday. He supplemented his success by clinching an additional point for fastest lap thanks to a late switch to soft compound tyres.

“For sure, happy to get my first fastest lap in Formula 1,” he said after the race. “We saw that we had a free pit stop and decided to go for it.”

Gasly had the space as he had been circulating on track pretty much all by himself for most of the race.

“[Lonely] is exactly the way to sum it up,” he agreed. “At the beginning I tried not to drop too much with the soft tyres behind the top five on the mediums and tried to take care of it. But obviously I was progressively dropping back. After that I didn’t see much of the racing.”

But a solid time in Shanghai is welcome news for Gasly, who after just three outings for Red Bull since his winter switch from Toro Rosso is already facing growing rumours that he could be dropped in favour of Alex Albon.

Hopefully Gasly’s growing confidence in the cockpit will help stamp out such rumours and allow him to focus on better results over the rest of the season.

“Slowly the feeling is improving inside the car,” he said. “There is still a lot of work to do but slowly we’re getting there.

“We do one stop every weekend. For sure I’d to do three and for things to go faster, but we’ll keep working.”

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