Max Verstappen says he was hampered by a race-long brake issue throughout his run to victory in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix.
Starting sixth after having his best lap time in qualifying deleted for a track limits breach, Verstappen gained one place at the start before picking off the two Ferraris to rise to third.
The Dutchman profited from Mercedes’ indecision to undercut Lewis Hamilton at the first round of stops before overtaking Lando Norris for the race lead on Lap 27.
Despite remaining at the front, Verstappen repeatedly complained about his brakes to race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase and asked him to not speak during the braking zones.
Explaining the obstacles he had to overcome to triumph in Austin, Verstappen said: “It started already with starting in P6, but the whole race I was struggling a lot with the brakes.
“Around here there are quite a few braking points, and I couldn’t really have the same feeling as yesterday. So that definitely made my race a bit tougher out there today.”
While Red Bull successfully covered off McLaren’s early second stop, Verstappen’s victory came under threat in the closing laps as Hamilton charged back at the pair on the Medium tyre.
The seven-time World Champion overtook Norris for second but came up short of pipping Verstappen to the win by only 2.2s come the chequered flag.
“You could see it was very close to the end,” Verstappen reflected. “Also with the backmarkers when the tyres are really going, it makes it a little bit more difficult.”
Verstappen admits that the recurring brake trouble with his RB19 car took a while to adapt to, also hindering his attempts to preserve the life of his tyres.
“Of course you don’t want to destroy the tyres, but at the same time I was struggling a lot on the braking, so it took quite a while to at least find a bit of a middle way,” he discussed.
By resisting Hamilton’s late onslaught, Verstappen scooped his third consecutive win at the Circuit of the Americas and matched his record tally of 15 from last season.
The three-time World Champion also became only the fifth driver in F1 history to reach 50 victories, joining Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost and Sebastian Vettel.
“It’s of course incredible to win my 50th grand prix here, as well,” he concluded. “So, very proud of course and we’ll just keep on trying to push for more.”