Red Bull duo were "free to race" for victory - Verstappen

Max Verstappen says Red Bull Racing did not issue him an order to stay behind Daniel Ricciardo and bring home a 1-2 finish in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Red Bull duo were "free to race" for victory - Verstappen
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB12 leads team mate Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB12
Second place Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing and race winner Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid retired from the race with a blown engine, and is passed by Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB12 and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB12
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB12 celebrates with team mate and race winner Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB12 at the end of the race
Race winner Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing
Race winner Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing

Red Bull found itself staring at a surefire victory at Sepang when race leader Lewis Hamilton's engine expired on lap 41, as Ricciardo and Verstappen had been running as his nearest rivals.

The duo, on different strategies, were dicing for position when Hamilton's blow-up necessitated a virtual safety car, Red Bull calling both of them into the pits for a switch onto softs.

Restarting two seconds behind Ricciardo, Verstappen halved the gap after a few laps of green flag running but could do no more, eventually settling for second.

"I was pushing," Verstappen insisted.

"But also when you get very close, it overheats tyres and I was on old tyres. It was very difficult to get into DRS and, like I said, if you are on old tyres – with new tyres I had a few laps advantage but on older tyres to get within a second is very hard.

"Until the last lap we were pushing really hard.

"The team said we were free to race but in a clean way and that is what we did."

Ricciardo thanks Verstappen for "fair" racing

Ricciardo, on older tyres, had narrowly held off Verstappen in a scrap between Turns 4 and 6 right before Hamilton's engine gave out and allowed Red Bull to put both drivers on fresh tyres.

Talking about his battles with his teammate, Ricciardo said: "Max pitted under VSC and at that point [his] strategy looked very good, I had to hold him off in mid part of the race.

"It was a good battle, Max on fresher tyres and I was doing everything I could. It was fun, we were determined to win, we did it very fair with a lot of respect, I thank him for that."

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