Verstappen: I am not here to be second-place

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Max Verstappen stayed top of the Formula One world championship in Saudi Arabia on Sunday but said he was still unhappy at having to settle for second in the race behind Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.

The Dutch driver paid the price for a drive-shaft failure in Saturday’s qualifying that left him fighting from 15th on the starting grid in Jeddah while Perez started on pole position.

“I recovered the second which is good and of course in general the whole feeling in the team, everyone is happy,” Verstappen told reporters.

“But personally I am not happy because I am not here to be second, especially when you are working very hard also back at the factory to make sure that you arrive here in a good state and basically making sure that everything is spot on.

“And then you have to do a recovery race, which I like. I don’t mind doing it. But when you’re fighting for a championship and especially when it looks like it’s just between two cars, you have to make sure that also the two cars are reliable.”

The two-time world champion, who won the opening race in Bahrain with Perez second, stayed top in the overall standings because he set the fastest lap on his way to the chequered flag.

“It wasn’t very easy to get through the field,” Verstappen said.

He was second already at half-distance but had a scare when he felt the drive-shaft was running “a bit rough.”

“It makes like a weird noise at high speed,” he told his race engineer.

Team boss Christian Horner said Red Bull checked the data and found nothing to cause concern, leaving the two drivers free to race.

“I was in second, we had a big gap behind so at one point we decided to just let’s say call it a day and just settle for second, which I think anyway was a very good recovery,” Verstappen said. “I gave it a go at the end [for fastest lap] so luckily it worked out.”

Verstappen has now led the standings for 19 races in a row, since the Spanish Grand Prix last May.

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