Max Verstappen admitted Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix was a difficult throughout, with the Dutchman failing to convert his front row start into a podium finish.
The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver dropped to fourth on the opening lap but was able to move up to third early on, but he spun whilst challenging Sergio Pérez for second at the kink on the back straight.
Verstappen was forced to pit after flat-spotting his tyres in the spin, and from there on, he was battling for the minor points rather than the win or podium. He suffered another spin late on and ultimately finished down in sixth.
“Today was just a very difficult race to be honest,” said Verstappen. “The start was not great and I dropped back to fourth with the lack of grip on the dirty side of the grid.
“I got back up to third and tried to follow Checo through the kink but washed out massively which put me onto the green on the exit kerb and I had a big spin. I tried to keep it out of the wall but flat spotted my tyres and needed to pit.
“With fresh tyres of course you very quickly catch up with the guys in front but then you can’t pass. There’s just one line around here and already that line is very slippery and you just have to do the same line as the person ahead which is very frustrating. Also, the fact that the track wasn’t really drying meant we couldn’t switch to slicks so we had to stay on intermediates which just get destroyed pretty quickly.
“It was a complicated race with a mixture of just following the car ahead, having no grip and trying to survive! It’s not been a great day and I guess it was just not meant to be.”
“Finishing seventh is definitely confusing” – Alexander Albon
Team-mate Alexander Albon felt he was on course for his maiden victory as he trailed only the two BWT Racing Point Formula One Team drivers at mid-race distance, but a drop in tyre performance and a pit stop left him floundering towards the bottom half of the top ten.
After he pitted, he could not get the same kind of pace or performance as he could on the first set of intermediate tyres, meaning he dropped well away from the leading pack and falling behind Verstappen to finish seventh.
Despite his disappointing result, Albon felt it was a positive weekend in Turkey, and he hopes he can take the kind of pace he should last weekend into the Bahrain double-header and the Abu Dhabi finale.
“I have mixed feelings as everything was going to plan and it looked like we were on for the win but it was a strange race and finishing seventh is definitely confusing,” admitted Albon. “We have been so competitive all weekend so today is a tough one to take.
“Both of us had poor starts but we picked our way through the field and when we pitted for inters, we had incredible grip and we were so quick. The pace was really strong but then we boxed for a second set of inters and we had no grip and no pace so there’s a bit of head scratching. It’s hard to understand but we’ll sit down and understand it as these conditions were so unusual.
“This weekend has been going really well, I’m happy with the progress we’ve made and some things on my side of the garage have definitely helped so I can’t wait to get out there in Bahrain and get going again.”
“Sixth and seventh are disappointing positions” – Christian Horner
Christian Horner, the Team Principal at Red Bull, felt the team fell short when it mattered at Intercity Istanbul Park, with their early weekend performance meriting better than sixth and seventh place.
Red Bull were celebrating their three-hundredth race start in Turkey, and they went into race day with high expectations after qualifying second and fourth in Saturday’s extremely tricky Qualifying session.
Both Verstappen and Albon suffered with tyre issues and spins that ultimately dropped them down the order, with Horner believing both could have challenged for the win that ultimately went the way of now-seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton.
“In conditions that we felt strong in all weekend we fell short in an incredibly challenging race,” said Horner. “Max and Alex both lost out after a very slippery getaway on extreme wet tyres, with both dropping back into the pack emerging fourth and fifth at the end of the first lap.
“We were able to get the jump on Seb after the first pit stop, giving Max track position and enabling him to close up and attack Sergio. Max struggled to make a move without DRS at that stage of the race and got too close to Sergio in his wake and had a spin. We were then forced to pit him for new intermediate tyres putting him on the back foot and well down the order.
“Alex then took on the challenge and was quicker than the two Racing Points ahead before also experiencing tyre issues and a spin which saw us pit him earlier than we would have liked and from there on both drivers were well down the order.
“Sixth and seventh are disappointing positions to end our 300th race at a weekend that held so much promise but congratulations must go to Lewis for achieving his record equalling seventh world title in truly impressive style out there today.”