SPIELBERG, Austria (Reuters) – Max Verstappen hailed his 20,000-strong orange army of fans after giving his Red Bull Formula One team a first home victory in Austria on Sunday to open his own winning account for the season.
“Of course we’re not playing in the (football) World Cup so it’s a bit easier for them to come over here, but in general, great support,” grinned the 20-year-old Dutch driver.
“It was amazing to see so much orange. And then if you win the race and see all the fans lining up there, it’s incredible.
Sunday’s win at the Red Bull Ring was the fourth of Verstappen’s career and it came, like his first in Spain in 2016, after champions Mercedes had imploded.In Barcelona, two years ago, Lewis Hamilton and then team mate Nico Rosberg lined up on the front row – and then collided.
On Sunday, Hamilton and team mate Valtteri Bottas started on the front row but hopes of a one-two ended when first Bottas retired with an hydraulics leak and then Hamilton pulled over with a fuel pressure problem.
A strategy error had already handed the lead to Verstappen by then and he responded with a mature drive to the chequered flag as his fans celebrated all around.
“I could see some orange smoke, I could see them cheering so I think that’s good enough,” said Verstappen, when asked whether he could hear their acclaim.
“And I think this was one of the nicest victories but I keep saying that, so I think at the moment they are all nice. But maybe hopefully, at one point, you just say ‘yeah, it’s just another one’. But at the moment I’m really happy with it.”