Verstappen hails 'perfect' Red Bull call after clinching unlikely podium finish in Sochi

By Sports Desk September 26, 2021

Max Verstappen believes Red Bull made a perfect call to switch tyres as he went from last on the grid to finish second at the Russian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton claimed his 100th Formula One triumph in Sunday's race in Sochi, the reigning world champion passing Lando Norris, who saw his chances of clinching victory from his maiden pole slip away when he lost control in the rain with just three laps to go.

Hamilton's win moves him ahead of Verstappen in the championship standings, but the Dutchman ensured the gap is only two points as he charged up to second.

Verstappen had started at the back of the grid after Red Bull installed a new engine to his car, though he said the key to his podium finish was a decision to switch to intermediate tyres as the rain closed in.

"I'm super happy of course to be second," Verstappen said.

"If you would have told me this morning that I would come second today, I wouldn't believe you. But luckily the call to go from the slicks to the inters was the perfect one I think, the right lap. Super pleased for this.

"When the rain came, I think at the end of the day we made the right call and the right lap to box, because the lap before, probably if we would have boxed, I would have destroyed the inters in that one or two laps because of it still being a bit too dry for two-thirds of the track.

"So to basically go from seventh to second for us was an amazing result."

Reflecting on what Hamilton's landmark win means for the title race, Verstappen added: "It could of course have been a lot worse in terms of how many points I would lose.

"Especially also with the conditions, it's already very hard to pass. But then also today because of track conditions and whatever, the tyres were graining a lot, so you also couldn't really push or stay close to someone. All in all to come away with second here was, of course, very important."

Norris, meanwhile, was left to lament his misfortune as the win slipped from his grasp.

"I don't know where to start," said Norris, who ultimately finished seventh and took responsibility for the decision not to switch to intermediate tyres.

"Obviously unhappy, devastated in a way. I guess we made a call to stay out; we stand by that call but it was the wrong one at the end of the day.

"I made a decision just as much as the team. In fact, it was more they thought I should box and I decided to stay out. So, my decision – I thought it was the way to go.

"I think I had the confidence beforehand. I knew I was capable of doing it, I've felt capable of doing it for a while so I don't think that’s really changed. Just a bit of heartbreak.

"I felt like I did everything I could, even when it got tricky at the end."

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