Max Verstappen says he recognised early on in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix that sticking with Mercedes’ drivers wasn’t “suicide”, as he realised he had a chance to win.
Mercedes has dominated the opening stages of the 2020 campaign but in the first stint at Silverstone the team was kept under pressure by third-placed Verstappen.
Mercedes, running Medium tyres, pitted both cars, unleashing Hard-shod Verstappen to the front, and when he made his stop he came out fractionally behind Valtteri Bottas.
Verstappen soon overhauled Bottas and, after both made their second stops, cycled back to the lead when the offset Lewis Hamilton also opted for a second trip to the pit lane.
“I was already managing but, you know, of course their tyres were like, completely gone,” said Verstappen.
“I could see the tyres opening up. It was also very expected with these tyres, especially on high fuel, when the car is very heavy.
“I didn’t just want to sit behind, like I’ve been doing at the previous races all the time, so once I had the opportunity to put a bit of pressure on, I want to do that.
“I had a big moment once, when I was close to Lewis in Turn 13, because it’s really hard to follow, even when I have the grip advantage with these cars – but of course then it was just impossible for them to continue, so they boxed. And that’s where my race started.
“But I hate sitting back, especially when you see that the car is actually pretty decent. Sometimes it can be a bit of suicide, killing your tyres, trying to hang on desperately but I don’t think that was the case today.”
Verstappen moved to second in the standings, 30 points behind Hamilton, with his first win of the season.