Max Verstappen says he saw no risk in pitting on the penultimate lap to successfully pursue the fastest lap in the Austrian Grand Prix.
The reigning World Champion had opened up a commanding 24s lead over Charles Leclerc when he suggested fitting a new set of Soft tyres to chase the fastest lap.
While the team were initially hesitant to grant his request, Verstappen got his way and proceeded to set a 1:07.012s on his final tour to thrash Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez’s previous benchmark by 1.1s.
It meant Verstappen notched the bonus point to take maximum points away from the Red Bull Ring, having also triumphed from the front in the Sprint race on Saturday.
“It’s been a really incredible weekend, something I didn’t expect,” Verstappen said.
“With the Sprint format, it’s normally a bit more chaotic to get on top of everything. But I think we did everything well as a team as well, also today with the strategy, the pit stops, everything was smooth.
“Out there on the track, we just had a very quick car, and I felt comfortable in the car. And we could do everything we wanted like we planned it.”
Verstappen admits that the decision to chase the fastest lap “wasn’t planned” but reveals he held absolutely no caution against chasing the additional point on offer.
“To me, not [a risk], but to the team, I think they were a little bit more nervous,” he explained.
“I saw the gap, and I was like we have to pit, I want to go for the fastest lap when you have the opportunity, and that’s what we did at the end.”
As for the dangers involved in making a late detour to the pits with the race already won, Verstappen added: “Yeah, but I mean from the outside, maybe it looks like a big risk.
“But in the car for me, it didn’t feel like a risk at all.”
The fastest lap had previously belonged to the sister Red Bull of Perez during a comeback drive that had taken him from 15th to the final step of the podium.
But with Verstappen snatching the extra point, the margin between the two Red Bull drivers in the championship now stands at a massive 81 points with 12 rounds to go.
When asked if registering the fastest race lap meant more to him than achieving the added point available, Verstappen replied: “Maybe”.
Having equalled Ayrton Senna’s tally with victory in Canada a fortnight ago, Verstappen’s 42nd win now means he sits in outright fifth on the all-time F1 list – nine behind Alain Prost.
The Dutchman’s fourth visit to the top step of the podium at the Austrian GP is the most of any driver in history and also marked his fifth win in succession.