Red Bull’s Max Verstappen felt that he was “just lacking a little bit” as he controversially finished second at 2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix, which saw his title lead reduced to 14 points.
Having qualified second in the Sprint Qualifying, Verstappen made a quick getaway to seize the lead into Turn One from pole-sitter, Valtteri Bottas and proceeded to control the race despite Lewis Hamilton recovering from tenth to second in the opening 19 laps.
Hamilton though refused to settle for second and reeled Verstappen in a dramatic cat and mouse thriller as the pair collided at Turn Four on Lap 48, after Verstappen forced Hamilton wide as he tried to pass him for the lead.
Stewards however deemed their clash a racing incident but Hamilton stayed with Verstappen and was able to deliver a race-winning overtake on Lap 59, which forced Verstappen to settle for second.
Explaining what went wrong after his bright start, Verstappen admitted that he had expected a “difficult” race but he was just “lacking a little bit” of performance which made second the “maximum” possible result despite enjoying the “fun race” across 71 laps.
Verstappen proceeded to offer his thoughts on his battle with Hamilton as he added: “Lewis and I were fighting for position on multiple occasions, I think it was hard racing but good racing and that’s how it should be.
Sergio Perez meanwhile finished fourth and snatched the point for fastest lap from Hamilton, who otherwise would of been 13 points behind Verstappen if he had claimed the fastest lap.
The Mexican though iterated that despite enduring a “fun” race, he was not in F1 to just “have fun” as he aims to deliver results, despite struggling to fend off Hamilton who had a “very difficult” pace to match before a Virtual Safety Car enabled Bottas to undercut Perez and secure third.
Perez though was struck mostly by Mercedes’ straight-line speed as he explained: “That straight-line speed of the Mercedes is just unbelievable, we were not able to match them and today they were on another planet.”
Team Principal Christian Horner though felt that their 31 points haul was “damage limitation” despite having “put up as good a defence as we could,” against a quick Mercedes.
Horner though iterated that Red Bull have “catching up” to do if they’re to match Mercedes in Qatar where the Silver Arrows are favourites around the high-speed Losail Circuit.