F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar
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Max Verstappen paid credit to his race engineers for getting the timing perfect on moving to intermediate tyres in the latter stages of a crazy Russian Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver came into this weekend already facing a grid penalty for his collision with Lewis Hamilton in Monza.
A decision was then made on Friday for an engine change on Verstappen’s car, dropping him to the back of the grid for Sunday’s race.
Red Bull surprisingly chose to bring Verstappen out in qualifying on Saturday, but he boxed before registering a time, knowing it wouldn’t make a difference for the race.
Verstappen faced a huge battle on his hands to claw back some spaces to Hamilton, who started the race in fourth.
The seven-time world champion got off to a poor start in the race though, dropping down to seventh.
Verstappen meanwhile was making his way through the pack quickly and was soon up inside the top 10 at the first round of pit stops.
Hamilton had regained ground on his rivals further up the grid though and the race was soon a battle between him and Lando Norris at the front.
Then chaos struck as the heavens opened in the final few laps of the race.
Norris and Hamilton were seemingly second guessing each other on whether to go to intermediates.
Hamilton took the chance on lap 50 with Norris now fully committed to staying on slicks.
Verstappen too came in for inters around that time and soon found himself up in the podium spots.
Chaos ensued as more drivers came into the pits because of the torrential rain, with Verstappen taking full advantage to finish second.
“It was pretty tricky on the in lap to make the call to go to inters,” Verstappen said.
“I think we decided at the right time to pit. To come from last to second is very very good.
“The race itself was not very easy as it was very difficult to pass and once you got stuck it was very easy to damage your tyres. The rain helped us to make that last jump.
“With the penalty we had, to only lose one spot basically is definitely not too bad. When I woke up this morning I definitely didn’t expect this result.
“From the back, a lot of things happened on the first lap and first stint. We managed all of that very good and the crucial call to go to the inters worked out.”
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