Max Verstappen feared exit in Robert Kubica pit stop incident

Max Verstappen and Robert Kubica

Max Verstappen says Robert Kubica “almost took him out” in their close-call at pit exit during Formula 1’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

Verstappen led away from pole position at Interlagos and responded to nearest rival Lewis Hamilton’s undercut by coming into the pits one lap later.

Williams also serviced the soon-to-be-lapped Robert Kubica but released him just as Verstappen was approaching.

Verstappen had to back off and relinquished the advantage to Hamilton, though soon re-passed the Briton and went on to secure his third victory of the campaign.

Stewards deemed Kubica culpable, handing him a five-second time drop, deeming that Williams had released him before Verstappen reached the guide boards, but that the Pole was slow to respond to the lights.

“I did my pit stop and I came out also Robert came out and he almost took me out, I went into the wall,” said Verstappen. “I had to brake there.

“I almost caught the anti-stall, so yeah, it was very close.”

Explaining his fightback, and eventual victory, Verstappen said: “Luckily for me Lewis got stuck in the middle sector with Charles [Leclerc], so I pushed up to them and luckily I could get by Charles into Turn 12 and then I still had the tow and the DRS of Lewis.

“I was on full power and DRS open and I could get Lewis into Turn 1.

“From there onwards in that stint we managed the tyres quite well. I was waiting for Mercedes to react again but luckily we had enough of a gap to go one lap longer, so we did that.

“And then on the Medium tyre Lewis was pushing hard and I think we were quite closely matched and I think if there wouldn’t be a Safety Car it would have been a good fight towards the end of the race.

But of course then the Safety Car came out and I think there the team did a really good job calling me in again for Soft tyres. At the time I was a bit like, ‘is there going to work, I’m not sure’.

“But immediately in the re-start I had a good tow off Lewis and went around the outside. We had a good battle in Turn 1 and again in Turn 4. And then you could see that the tyre advantage really helped me of course and we could stay in first and control the race.”