Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Max Verstappen: “We have to keep going and I will always try to challenge myself”

Max Verstappen stormed to a seventh consecutive victory of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season on Sunday, the Dutchman taking the win at the Hungaroring by more than half a minute.

The Oracle Red Bull Racing driver had started second on the grid but was able to jump into the lead at the start.  He pulled alongside polesitter Lewis Hamilton heading into turn one and was untroubled thereafter until the chequered flag.

Verstappen admitted his car was a joy to drive in Hungary, and he says the decision to focus on race performance over Qualifying performance paid off when it mattered and enabled him to claim a remarkable ninth victory in eleven races.

“The start was very important to me,” said Verstappen.  “I wanted to get a good first stint and it meant I was able to look after my tyres well and extend it compared to the others.

“The car felt really good today and the balance was right with the increase in temperature. We had the struggle over one lap all weekend in qualifying, but I think that means it was the right call for the race.

“If I had a choice between the two, I would pick my race performance every time but we will always make changes and keep trying to improve the car.”

Verstappen’s win ensured Red Bull broke the record for the number of consecutive race victories in Formula 1, with the twelfth in a row breaking the 1988 record of eleven set by the McLaren F1 Team.

However, he says he is looking to keep this remarkable run of form and performance going, with the Dutchman aiming for an eighth consecutive win at the Belgian Grand Prix coming up this weekend.

“I think people forget a little bit that to win 12 races in a row is extremely hard but I hope it doesn’t stop there,” said the Dutchman.  “We have to keep going and I will always try to challenge myself.

“I had a lot of fun out there today and I was just smiling in the car, it was one of those days where everything just goes perfect. Well, almost perfect, I think I will ask McLaren to pay for a new trophy for me!

“We need to review the footage, like VAR, to see who really broke it because I heard Lando [Norris] is blaming me.”

“It was great to get to the podium” – Sergio Pérez

Team-mate Sergio Pérez earned the Driver of the Day moniker on Sunday by climbing from ninth on the grid to finish third, the Mexican enjoying a positive day at the Hungaroring.

Pérez made some decisive overtaking manoeuvres during the race to ensure he was able to return to the podium for the sixth time in 2023, in a race where he revealed that he had lost three kilograms in weight due to the high temperatures.

“Today was a good one and it was great to get to the podium,” said Pérez.  “We raced initially on the hard compound, which was quite tricky, especially on lap one, but it ended up going well for a long time and we got some good pace before going on the Mediums.

“The race today was not only very demanding physically, but also mentally, I had to focus on looking after the tyres. It was really hot and I ended up actually losing 3kg in weight. It was a good result and now I just need to find consistency.

“When the pressure is on you and you are able to deliver, it makes you feel proud of what you are doing so we just need to keep going forward and keep pushing. I am focusing on myself and making sure I deliver to the maximum.

“It is great to be given driver of the day but sadly that doesn’t get you any points!”

Pérez says he is proud of the team for making history in Hungary with their twelfth consecutive win, with the Mexican having achieved two of those triumphs earlier this season in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan.

“Finally, the record of 12 wins in a row is quite incredible,” added the Mexican.  “I am really proud of The Team: they have made history and it is quite something to have been a part of that.”

Sergio Pérez finished third in Hungary from ninth on the grid – Credit: Francois Nel/Getty Images