Verstappen Admits Doubts About Holding Off Norris

Verstappen Admits Doubts About Holding Off Norris


Max Verstappen doubted he could keep Lando Norris behind him at Imola, struggling with hard tires in the race’s second half.

Starting from pole position at Imola, Max Verstappen quickly built a gap on Lando Norris with his medium tires but struggled significantly with the hard tires in the second half of the Grand Prix, which saw the McLaren F1 closing in on him by the checkered flag.

The Dutchman admits he wasn’t sure he could hold off his rival in the final laps.

“First of all, the medium tires worked very well in the race. I didn’t expect such a pace after what we had done since the beginning of the weekend. But we managed to maintain the balance, which was very nice. However, as soon as I switched to the hard tires, it was really… I mean, maybe not the first five or ten laps, but after that, I thought I wasn’t sure if I could make it to the end because the tires went out of their operating window and, yes, it was like driving on ice. You can feel when the tires no longer grip, like in Turn 7, I almost ended up in the stands at one point because of my sensations.”

“It was very difficult, I had to take some really weird lines. In the last ten laps, I was really trying to survive on the tires and suddenly, Lando really picked up the pace. So, yes, I saw him, of course, catching up to me. I wasn’t sure if I could keep him behind, but I was just trying to do my best, pushing as hard as I could with the grip I had. And, yes, fortunately, the race ended at the right time.”

“When I saw Lando starting to gain half a second per lap, I thought, ‘Whoa, that’s a lot.’ But on the other hand, there’s nothing you can do about it. So I tried to stick to my pace. You can’t suddenly try to gain half a second when you don’t have the balance. So I tried not to make mistakes, to work around the balance issues I had, and to be fast on the straights. That’s what helped me in the end. Plus, with the rear wing we had, we were quite fast on the straight. And yes, that probably helped me in the last laps to defend.”

Verstappen also played with fire as he received a black-and-white flag early in the race for exceeding track limits too often, but he ultimately got away with just this warning.

“The team informed me, of course, about the track limits, so I was a bit more cautious from that point on. But the problem was also, I think, that at the beginning, I was understeering a lot with the mediums, and that sometimes pushed me a bit wide if I missed the apex. After that, I used the hard tires, giving a bit more margin. Of course, in the last laps, when Lando was catching up, it was a bit more difficult because I naturally had to use the track as much as possible. We stayed within the limits, but it certainly required a bit more concentration, of course. Every exit, you have to be really sure of what you’re doing.”

A pole and a win despite nothing working in practice sessions

Although Verstappen and Red Bull’s weekend ended with a victory, everything had been particularly complicated during the free practice sessions. The Dutchman is thus even more satisfied with his success.

“Yes, on Friday, we were nowhere on the long runs. I had no good feeling. Even on Saturday morning, we tried another long run, and it was also very bad, so I wasn’t happy at all. But I think that from qualifying onwards, the car was much better. So I knew the day would be better, but I had no idea how much better. We didn’t have a lot of data on the tires either, so we might have done something wrong. Maybe it worked correctly for the medium tires but not at all for the hard tires. So that’s something we need to understand and analyze.”

“We managed to turn things around. I mean, in general, this year, of course, we’ve had a very good car so far. But, yes, for some reason, we couldn’t get on top of things from the start. I think from qualifying, everything seemed a bit more normal. But maybe we weren’t at our best for the race, because on the hard tires, something wasn’t optimized, as I never felt like the tires were working on our car. That’s something we need to analyze. But it’s clear that the teams around us are catching up and doing a great job. So we also need to try to find improvements on our side.”

What hierarchy can we expect for Monaco this weekend now? Verstappen deflects, noting that the gaps are too close to predict anything.

“Monaco is a completely different circuit. But you can see, of course, that it’s clearly very close now. I think I had a bit more pace on the medium, but I didn’t have that pace on the hard tire. And in the end, we crossed the finish line as we started the race. It was incredibly close and Monaco is always very eventful. You really need to nail the qualifying to set a lap, make sure the tires work well when it matters, it’s always very tricky. Monaco is very special, I would say, in that sense.”

Verstappen Admits Doubts About Holding Off Norris

Verstappen Admits Doubts About Holding Off Norris. Verstappen Admits Doubts About Holding Off Norris. f1 2024 Verstappen Admits Doubts About Holding Off Norris

Next Race
Spanish GP20 - 23 Jun
Race 2:00
Upcoming Events
Date Race
Go toTop