Grand prix

Verstappen didn’t believe P2 was possible ahead of F1’s Russian GP | F1

Verstappen started the race from 20th after taking a fresh power unit for this weekend’s race.

The Dutchman cut his way through, running several seconds behind title rival Lewis Hamilton at the midway point before being stuck in traffic after the pit stop phase.

Verstappen was running in seventh when he made a timely call to intermediate tyres, allowing him to get ahead of the likes of Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc and Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.

“I think I’ve had a few but this one definitely came a little bit out of nowhere towards the end,” Verstappen said. “We made the right call to go from the slicks to the inters. The team kept asking me ‘how are the conditions, what do you want to do?’. At one point it was so tricky to drive. I said ‘OK, right, let’s box now, we go for it’ and that was the right call.

“Of course, super pleased to be second from last. If somebody would have told me that I would be second here this morning I definitely wouldn’t have believed that.”

The 23-year-old is adamant he’d have still stopped for intermediates when he did if he was running higher than seventh.

“I would have preferred to be higher up,” Verstappen explained. “We still probably would have made the same call because you’re all over the place and when you don’t have grip at one point, you have to box. It wouldn’t have made a big difference.”

Verstappen doubts he’d have finished higher than second had he qualified at the front.

“Realistically, I think even if we would have started up front, in the top three, four, this is maybe still the best we could have done,” Verstappen added. “We didn’t really lose out and of course, it’s a big bonus taking a new engine and starting from last. I am looking forward to the upcoming races.”

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