Verstappen: Monaco penalty "fired me up" to attack Hamilton

Max Verstappen chose to fight for Monaco Grand Prix victory instead of playing it safe and targeting the fastest lap bonus point because was “fired up” by his time penalty.

Verstappen: Monaco penalty "fired me up" to attack Hamilton

Verstappen ran third early on but moved into second place when Red Bull beat Mercedes in the pitstops and released him a nose ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who he made contact with in the pitlane.

That unsafe release and collision earned Verstappen a five-second time penalty, which he said spurred him on to pressure race leader Lewis Hamilton relentlessly in an attempt to overtake and establish a big enough gap to win the race.

Though he was unsuccessful and thus fell to fourth, Verstappen said he was not demotivated by the penalty.

“No, it fired me up,” he said. “As soon as I heard about the penalty I was just pushing Lewis hard because initially he was driving so slow.

“I just kept pushing him and then he had to push otherwise I would attack him, and then he destroyed his tyres. That was my only way of trying to get by.”

Verstappen added: “I enjoyed it. Of course it’s a shame to finish fourth but I had a fun race.”

More from Monaco G:

Given how difficult it is to overtake in Monaco, an alternative strategy for Verstappen and Red Bull would have been to abort challenging Hamilton and going for the fastest lap instead.

Had he taken a new set of tyres and earned fastest lap he would still have finished in fourth place but would have left Monte Carlo with 13 points instead of 12.

However, Verstappen was happier to fight for the win instead of playing it safe.

“We had that discussion but I had a fair chance of maybe getting by and then you win the race,” he pointed out. “At the end of the day that’s one point. So be it.

“I had a more fun face being in second than trying to go for the fastest lap.”

Verstappen was restricted to just one chance to try to pass Hamilton, which resulted in minor contact at the chicane with a couple of laps remaining.

He said “no one was to blame” for the incident, adding: “It was all fair, a fair chance of trying to get him.

“I was just trying to put the pressure on and that was my only chance of maybe trying to get by.”

Additional reporting by Stuart Codling

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