It was an impressive recovery race for Max Verstappen, as, after being hit by FIA with a five places grid penalty for ignoring the double yellow flags waved after Pierre Gasly's puncture at the end of yesterday's qualifying session, he managed to make his way up the field to P2, only behind Lewis Hamilton.
The Red Bull driver also went for the extra point given out for the fastest lap, doing damage limitation as his advantage on Hamilton decreased by only six points
🏆 ➕ Fastest Lap 💜 Damage limitation 👏 pic.twitter.com/UoXDmzJDCI— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) November 21, 2021
Verstappen commented his driving performance in the post race press conference, and especially the quick recovery he made, gaining three positions by Turn 6 and returning to what was supposed to be his starting grid place, P2:
"Once I know I was starting seventh I was just very motivated to move ahead, and that’s exactly what we did. We had a good first lap, and then after five laps we were second again. I just tried to keep the gap small, which we did throughout the whole race so they couldn’t do an extra stop – and it gave me the fastest lap at the end so I was definitely happy with that."
Overall, he isn't completely satisfied by the team's performance, as it allowed his main rival to gain precious points, with only two races left in the calendar:
"We just didn’t have the pace this weekend to match them [Mercedes]. I did the fastest lap – at the end of the day it was still one extra point and everything counts at the moment – but this weekend wasn’t the best for us," Verstappen commented.
Another thing that definitely didn't please him this weekend was FIA's decision to punish him with a severe grid drop:
"Well no surprises there, I mean I knew already last night that I never get presents from them, so it’s okay.”
"I don’t want to talk about it too much, because I don’t want to give anyone the pleasure to talk about it even more, but it’s of course not great," he said, reinforcing his idea of it being not completely deserved.
The Dutchman isn't fazed by the pressure of such a tight fight, neither by the distraction provided by out of track investigations, which have been taking place quite frequently in the last rounds:
"Racing is not complicated. It has a brake pedal, throttle pedal and a steering wheel. There’s a lot of show around but I think as drivers we know what to do and anything else around that’s not really relevant for me, I have to just focus on my job. We just need to try and stay focused and there are two races to go and as you can see a lot of things can happen."
"Anything is possible," he summed up, confident in his own abilities.
Asked on his feelings for the championship fight, the Red Bull driver was extremely positive as he said:
" I feel good. It’s going to be a tight battle to the end. I know it’s going to be difficult to the end, but I think that’s nice – it keeps it exciting," he concluded.
Happy with P2️⃣ and the fastest lap 👊 Despite a really good start, the win was out of reach, but we maximized our race result. Thanks to a good strategy, we scored 19 points today. We will keep fighting to the end 💪 🇶🇦 #QatarGP pic.twitter.com/YnCL44O50x— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) November 21, 2021