The Red Bull driver made a poor start from pole and lost the lead to Charles Leclerc, who began to open up a clear lead at the front of the sprint race after a safety car period.
However, Leclerc ‘s fortunes changed when he began to suffer more degradation than his rival on his right front tire and his pace began to drop by leaps and bounds.
That somehow handed the lead back to Max Verstappen, who did his best to get inside the DRS zone before going through Turn 2 on the penultimate lap.
The #1 said after the sprint race that once it became clear that Leclerc was suffering, it was just a matter of finding the right moment to make his move and overtake him.
“Charles [Leclerc] was definitely suffering more with the demotion,” Verstappen said. “Then of course I could get close and use DRS to beat him to position.”
“But I think it was more of a waiting game, because every lap it seemed like the gap or difference between the two cars got bigger in terms of lap times.
However, despite the tire advantage, Verstappen admitted he had a bit of a hard time getting inside the DRS zone, less than a second behind the Monegasque driver.
“There comes a time when it’s very difficult to get past that one-second window to get very close to the driver in front,” he explained.
“Of course with these cars it’s easier to follow closely. But it’s still difficult to overtake. You still need to use the tires properly, especially with the degradation that the soft had, getting into the DRS window was difficult.”
“But then once I got there, I think we had a bit of a battle at Turn 2. But yeah, I think we clearly had a little more pace towards the end of the race.
The 2021 world champion acknowledged that he needed to analyze exactly what went wrong at the start, as wheelspin was to blame for his poor start.
“[The start was] terrible. When I released the clutch, the wheels spun a lot and there was no traction. So my start to the race was very, very poor.”
Asked if the fact that he was starting from the dirty side of the track might have been a key factor, Verstappen replied: “Well I don’t think so, Lando [Norris] made a decent start so there’s no excuse.”
“My first few meters were just terrible. I had no gear synchronization for some reason. So yeah, I need to see exactly what went wrong,” the Red Bull Dutchman concluded.