Verstappen claims third pit-stop decisive in Brazil GP win

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Max Verstappen believes the decision to stop for a third time was crucial to securing victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The Dutchman was largely in control throughout at Interlagos, holding a small but solid lead over Lewis Hamilton for much of the race.

However, he was still vulnerable to the world champion in the pit-stops and the end of stints so when he pitted under the first Safety Car, that gave Max the confidence to push.

“Mercedes was quick again, but I think as a team we did a really good job with the pit stop strategy,” Verstappen said post-race.

“I think especially the last one to get the call to get back on the red [soft] tyres, that basically saved our race and gave us the opportunity to fight Lewis again into Turn 1. It was, of course, incredible to come out on top again."

“I had to keep pushing and all the time with the strategy Lewis pitted a lap earlier so we had to be really on top of our pit stops,” he continued.

“Two times we had a good move with him to get back into first and from there onwards I could control the race with the tyres I had."

The moment it became clear the Red Bull driver would be near-impossible to beat was after his first stop when, having been undercut by Hamilton, he simply drove clean back past the Mercedes into Turn 1 on the next lap.

“I was pushing flat-out on my out lap to be closer because it was my only shot," Verstappen claimed. "I was close into the DRS zone and we knew that we had great top speed all weekend already, so I’m very happy to get past.”

Sunday's race was also seen as redemption for 2018 when, after leading Hamilton again by a strong margin, victory was lost after a clash with Esteban Ocon as he tried to unlap himself.

"It’s a great victory after last year of course, but more for the way the race unfolded and how we all had to work together," Max said.

"Today and the whole weekend the car and Honda power unit have been working really well and we have made a step so thank you to everyone for that.

"It is, of course, a massive shame that Alex could not be on the podium with me as it would have been an even better result for the team but it’s great for Pierre to be up here and for Toro Rosso and Honda.”