Max Verstappen said it felt like his Formula 1 rivals “almost stood still” in the incident where he damaged his Red Bull at the start of the Italian Grand Prix.
Having started at the back of the grid due to an engine change penalty, Verstappen picked up front wing damage when he clipped Sergio Perez’s Racing Point at the first corner at Monza.
Verstappen could only recover to eighth place, ironically spending the final laps trapped behind Perez.
“It was not even late braking, just following, following…” said Verstappen when asked about the first corner incident by Motorsport.com.
“Suddenly everything almost stood still. I tried to avoid it but I still clipped Sergio, I think, on the rear wheel and I think the front wing was a bit down so we boxed.”
He described the rest of the race as “odd”, having also lost ground when cars around him were able to take their pitstops under the virtual safety car triggered by Carlos Sainz’s McLaren parking with a loose wheel.
“We had good pace. I got through quite a lot of cars, but then I got stuck behind Sergio. They had such a high top speed, I had no chance to get by,” Verstappen added.
“Then I was unlucky again with the virtual safety car, two or three cars overtook me in the pitstop because of that.
“The whole race everything was just against us and it just didn’t work out.
“Sometimes starting at the back it works out brilliantly, like in Austin last year, but you can’t expect it to be like that all the time of course.”
Perez was also carrying an engine change penalty so started 18th and credited “good pace, good overtaking” for his progress to seventh. He was among the drivers able to pit under the VSC.
“The last 15-20 laps were very, very tricky and we pushed from there to the end,” he said when asked about fending off Verstappen.
“It was very difficult, he was very quick. He closed down to me extremely quick, but luckily I didn’t lose any time with [Antonio] Giovinazzi when I overtook him everything worked out for us.”
When it was put to him that Perez had enjoyed their battle, Verstappen replied: “I want to get by so you’re not really enjoying it getting stuck but I can understand from his side of course keeping a Red Bull behind for them is a good achievement”.
Verstappen believes his pace would have been comparable to Mercedes and Ferrari if he had been able to start with them.
“I could go with the guys in front. I could see them on the screen and I was following my progression,” he said.
“I knew their lap times and I was not losing out. Of course when I got in traffic I lost time, but all the time when I was in free air they were not faster.
“So that’s of course very promising on a track where you’re normally not that competitive.
“Today was about surviving and trying to score a few points. We did that, but I’m now really looking forward to starting at the front again in Singapore because we’ve had our penalties and hopefully also our trouble and now we can just focus on performance.”
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