Max Verstappen Ruined His Right Shoe During Heroic Drive to USGP Podium
Verstappen essentially stood on the accelerator on his way from 18th to second-place during Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen faced a major deficit at the beginning of Sunday's United States Grand Prix after a qualifying mishap and an additional grid penalty landed the young Dutchman a P18 starting position. Over the course of 56 laps at Circuit of the Americas, he was able to claw his way to second place and earn the podium finish he feels he should've achieved the year prior. In post-race interviews, Max revealed that he had pushed so hard during his climb through traffic and past championship-leader Lewis Hamilton that he literally wore a hole in his right shoe by pressing on the accelerator.
“A bit unexpected but a good start, a good first lap, and then very quickly we were back into P5, P4 and we could just follow the leaders and we had really good pace,” Verstappen said after finishing as the runner-up to Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. “We made the right call to undercut Valtteri (Bottas) and from there onwards we could do our own race."
“I think in the end we could put a bit of pressure on, but unfortunately in the last three or four laps, I ran out of tires on the supersoft compared to the guys on the soft around me. But still very happy. I destroyed my shoe; I think I was pushing a bit hard, but it felt good," the 21-year-old continued.
According to Verstappen, he had the pace to challenge for victory if it weren't for his battle with Lewis Hamilton in the final five laps.
"Following Kimi that closely, of course, it’s not great for my tires, so I was struggling a bit more with the tires. So then Lewis came close and yeah, we had a few corners where I had to close the door a little bit."
“He tried around the outside—I was on the edge already in the fast corners so I was just sliding a lot. Then I saw also that Lewis ran out of room and then, of course, if you go a bit wide you get a lot of marbles on the tires so it takes like a lap before they have grip again.”
Had he won, it would've been the second largest leap from starting position to victory in F1 history.
Verstappen now heads into the Mexico Grand Prix, which he won in 2017, with full confidence and the backing of his Red Bull Racing team. Although teammate Daniel Ricciardo faced yet even more reliability issues with his Renault power unit in Austin, Verstappen is banking on continued success and the benefit of an even playing field thanks to lower power outputs at high altitudes.