He won at Imola and the plan immediately thereafter was to exert maximum pressure over his Mercedes rivals at the 2021 Portuguese GP. But in qualifying on a turf as undulating as the Algarve with strong gusting winds making it hard for the drivers to keep all four wheels inside the track limits along with the added responsibility of putting together a cracker of a lap, meant that Max Verstappen could do no better than third in qualifiers, albeit one-hundredths of a second up his teammate Perez in the other Red Bull.
But not a driver who bows under pressure, Max Verstappen wasted no time whatsoever in hitting back at Lewis Hamilton, then on second, not long after the 66-lap contest began.
Then came the move on Lap 7 which may surely have spiked the adrenaline of the Red Bull endlessly as Verstappen found a way to cling into the inside of second-place Lewis Hamilton as the duo fought into the approach to a sharp right hander. Resultantly, the Dutchman would position himself up into second, a place which he could sadly only hold onto four more laps as Hammertime struck back to reclaim second.
In the end a P2, with another belter of a move, executed in the latter half of the contest over original pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas, then on third, would enable the marauding Red Bull driver to take second, which meant 18 strong points.
But in doing all of this- in keeping Bottas at bay and in fighting the much quicker Mercedes of his main 2021 adversary Lewis Hamilton, it could be said that Verstappen still did all he could to put up a strong show.
But we know the youngster isn’t the one who relishes the second-best tag, don’t we?
So the question is, what did Verstappen feel on his performance at the recent 2021 Portuguese GP?
Well, here’s what he had to say:
“Looking back, I have to say that finishing P2 after a tricky few days was absolutely the maximum for us.”
That being said, Verstappen also added about just how easy or difficult it was out there i terms of grip, ever a defining factor for cars running on blazing speeds on the north of 300 kmph, stating, “it was a bit of an odd weekend in terms of grip!”
Moreover, his team boss Chrisitian Horner, who has pushed all positive energies behind the go-to driver at Red Bull affirmed the importance to realise just how hard an adversary are Red Bull facing, praising the rival team, “Clearly we still have to improve and do better because we should be fastest on every single track and in every single condition – because the track is the same for everyone.”
As the F1 circus now heads to Catalunya for the next round at the Spanish Grand Prix, the odds will once again be between the likes of Hamilton and Verstappen to put up a stellar show.
But in order to come all cylinders firing, the first task will be for the drivers to gather the best place on the grid, for which we all shall have to wait until the approaching Saturday, i.e., May 8, 2021- the 2021 Spanish GP qualifying.