Only one year into its existence, and the Portuguese Grand Prix already has a major detractor in Max Verstappen. The conditions at the circuit provided the Red Bull driver with a mountain to climb, and it was only after some outlandish driving that he managed to secure P2, in between the two Mercedes drivers.
Following the race, Verstappen was clearly relieved that it was over, and as reported by Autosport, heaved a sigh of relief when he saw the chequered flag.
“I didn’t like the whole weekend, because of the grip levels here,” he said. “I hope we don’t come back. Barcelona is good. It is a good track for an F1 car. And I think we will see more about how the teams have progressed since the beginning of the season until today.”
Verstappen offered an insight into his depleted performance, saying, “I clearly lacked a little grip, a little maximum speed. And I was not able to put pressure on Mercedes. Lewis passed Valtteri, but I still couldn’t get through. And in the last two corners, I lost too much time.”
The circuit seems to be extremely slippery because it was relaid recently, and its varying altitude doesn’t help. Portimao is famous for its heavy gusts of wind, which can interfere with the ultra-lightweight F1 cars throughout the race.
No pace, no party
Although there were flashes of promise from Verstappen, he never looked like he could convincingly beat Hamilton. His struggles with grip and the circuit was a recurring theme, and ultimately resulted in him conceding points to the Brit.
“I think the team called me at a good time. And I had a strong lap because the track was super slippery. There was never really a point where I thought, ‘Okay, we have the pace to fight Hamilton’. So I just tried to stay in second,” he said.
Verstappen sits second in the WDC, eight points behind his title rival. He will be looking to put it behind him and close the gap at the next stop – Barcelona.