Max Verstappen called his late defence of fourth place from Nico Rosberg in Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix “the hardest 10 laps of my life”.
Verstappen ran fourth heading into the final few laps at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, but came under increasing pressure from Rosberg, who was on a fresher set of tires.
Rosberg tried time and time again to pass Verstappen, but was hindered by a fuel shortage caused by his charge through the field after losing places at the start.
Rosberg dropped back before trying one final pass on Verstappen with two laps to go, only to spin at the final chicane, easing the pressure on the Red Bull driver.
“We did what we could today and that was a great job,” Verstappen said.
“We wanted to finish on the podium in front of the Williams but soon realised we were suffering with a bit too much tire degradation. I think a little bit of rain could have helped us today.
“At the beginning I saved my tires and fuel as I knew I could not stay with the front two. When Daniel [Ricciardo] got close behind I then decided it was time to push.
“I am very satisfied with my performance but also with the new power unit, you could see it was hard for the Mercedes to try and pass on the long straight so we are making good progress.
“The last 10 laps I really enjoyed, I would actually say they were the hardest 10 laps of my life. I was in fourth for a very long time so didn’t want to give up that position.
“It was a very hard battle at the end of the race, his [Rosberg] pace was very strong but we managed to keep ahead and then the last lap was pretty spectacular.”
Verstappen felt pleased to bounce back from a difficult Monaco Grand Prix weekend that saw him crash out three times.
“After Monaco it’s nice to leave this race with a big smile on my face,” he said.
“Now looking ahead to Baku it’s a new experience for everyone so we have to wait and see how the grip levels are but today was definitely positive for us.”