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Max 8th in a catch-up race in China: “Very pleased”

Published on 17 April 2016 by Mike Motilall

Max Verstappen finished in eighth during the Chinese Grand Prix in a race that had a troubled opening. The start of the race was very tumultuous, as the safety car jostled the entire field. Nico Rosberg drove unthreatened to victory in front of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari and both Red Bulls, in which Daniil Kvyat claimed P3 ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in fourth.

“When the lights turned green, I reacted fast enough, but the car was in the wrong power mode, causing me to not have full power. That was my mistake”, Max explains to about his start. “I lost some positions because of that and also during the first pit stop, when both Sainz and I came in together, I lost more. Which put me at the back of a string of cars. That’s when I thought ‘this is not working as planned’. But I remained calm, didn’t get frustrated, fought my way back and overtook them one by one.”

Towards the end you managed to get pass Sainz and Bottas. “Sainz gave me some room at the end of the straight. He actually didn’t have a chance, because I was on the softer tyres. I was happy to being able to overtake Bottas as well. If I had had one more lap, I could have gotten pass Hamilton. I am very happy with this result”, says the Dutch Scuderia Toro Rosso-driver.

At the start, Rosberg is the only one in the top ten on the softs. When the lights go out, Daniel Ricciardo has a great start off the line and overtakes Rosberg. In the first corner both Ferrari’s come into contact with each other, forcing Kimi Raikkonen to pit. Lewis Hamilton also doesn’t come out unscathed from the first lap and loses his front wing.

Max, initially, has a good get away, but loses a lot of positions in the first lap. After the first lap, he is behind Marcus Ericsson in P12. When the DRS has been enabled, Rosberg makes little work of Ricciardo’s Red Bull at the end of the long straight. At the same time, the Ossie’s left rear tyre blows, triggering a safety car situation.

The whole field gets flipped around, as most of the cars, including Max, head in for a pit stop. When the pack is eventually let loose again, Max is in P18. During the first lap after the re-start, the young Dutchman, on a new set of the softer compound tyres, loses two positions to Raikkonen and Hamilton. At the front, Rosberg creates a gap of seven seconds to Daniil Kvyat in his Red Bull.

Max is slowly making his way through the pack as more and more cars pull away for a pit stop. After seventeen laps, he is in P13 and is closing in on Nico Hülkenberg. Max makes little work of the German, who pits immediately after. In P9 now, Max sets his sight on Jenson Button. Due to a pit stop, he doesn’t get a shot at the Brit. His stop drops him all the way back to P15.

Halfway during the race, Max is twelfth by now while his team mate Carlos Sainz is running in ninth. It seems that Max is trying to run as long as possible on the mediums only to be able to finish the race on another set of mediums or softs, after his next stop.

Slowly the pecking order is restored after the chaos during the start of the race and Max makes it back into the top ten. When Max finally makes his planned pit stop, he drops from P4 to P13. But his STR11 has now been given a new set of soft tyres.

He has one aim for the remainder of the race: fight his way back into the top ten. Max gets his head down and drives the fastest lap time at that moment, he also quickly closes in on the cars in front of him. Button gives way as he disappears for a pit stop enabling the fast youngster to set course to his team mate Sainz. The Spaniard is on the medium compound tyres and is more than a second per lap slower.

With still eight laps remaining, Max is on Sainz’ tail and it doesn’t take long before it’s the other way round. One lap later, Sergio Perez has fallen victim to Max’ push forward as he snatches P9 from the Mexican.

Ahead of Max, Valtteri Bottas is running in a slower pace. The gap is more than two seconds with still three laps remaining. On the straight, Max shows that he is a born and bred racer and makes little work of Bottas, earning him P8. World champion Hamilton is out of Max’ reach, who is a few laps shy of being able to claim P7.

At the front, it is Rosberg again who takes victory with ease in front of both Kvyat and Ricciardo’s Red Bulls.

Chinese Grand Prix - Shanghai International Circuit - Sunday 17 April:

 P Driver                 Team          Time 
 1 Nico Rosberg       GER Mercedes      1:38:53.891 
 2 Sebastian Vettel   GER Ferrari       +37.776s 
 3 Daniil Kvyat       RUS Red Bull      +45.936s 
 4 Daniel Ricciardo   AUS Red Bull      +52.688s 
 5 Kimi Raikkonen     FIN Ferrari       +65.872s 
 6 Felipe Massa       BRA Williams      +75.511s 
 7 Lewis Hamilton     GBR Mercedes      +78.230s 
 8 Max Verstappen     NED Toro Rosso    +79.268s 
 9 Carlos Sainz       ESP Toro Rosso    +84.127s 
10 Valtteri Bottas    FIN Williams      +86.192s 
11 Sergio Perez       MEX Force India   +94.283s 
12 Fernando Alonso    ESP McLaren       +97.253s 
13 Jenson Button      GBR McLaren       +101.990s 
14 Esteban Gutierrez  MEX Haas          +1 lap 
15 Nico Hulkenberg    GER Force India   +1 lap 
16 Marcus Ericsson    SWE Sauber        +1 lap 
17 Kevin Magnussen    DEN Renault       +1 lap 
18 Pascal Wehrlein    GER Manor         +1 lap 
19 Romain Grosjean    FRA Haas          +1 lap 
20 Felipe Nasr        BRA Sauber        +1 lap 
21 Rio Haryanto       INA Manor         +1 lap 
22 Jolyon Palmer      GBR Renault       +1 lap