Max Verstappen produced one of the outstanding displays of Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix by charging from 16th on the grid to finish third, scoring Red Bull’s 100th podium finish in Formula 1.
Verstappen qualified 19th on Saturday due to an engine issue on his Red Bull RB13, but started 16th following a handful of grid penalties for the cars around him.
With moves reminiscent of his charge through the pack in Brazil last year, Verstappen scythed through the field on the opening lap, rising from 16th to seventh.
Verstappen ran as high as second after passes on Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo on slick tires, but could not stop Sebastian Vettel from taking the position back later in the race, leaving him to settle for third.
“Yeah it was very challenging. I think lap one I passed nine cars, so yeah not too bad,” Verstappen said.
When asked if the first lap felt like a video game, Verstappen said: “More or less. It felt a bit like that. I was very happy about that.
“Then afterwards I think it was a very good race. I didn’t have a lot of track time with the car balance from yesterday because of qualifying yesterday, I was basically nursing the car to the finish.
“Of course [I’m] very happy to be on the podium. I didn’t expect that at all, starting 16th.”
While it did not quite match the lofty heights of his charge to the podium in Brazil last year, Verstappen said the race would definitely rank in the top five of his career.
“I always find it difficult to compare but it’s definitely one of the best. Of course I’m very happy with it,” Verstappen said.
“Looking back to last year, obviously a victory is very special, one of my best for the moment, and Brazil was also very nice.
“But this is definitely in my top five.’