Max Verstappen has called his fourth place in the United States Grand Prix his 'most complete race' after relishing life battling at the sharp end in his rookie season.
The 18-year-old made an ideal start to scythe into the top six and enjoyed competitive battles with both the Ferrari and Force India cars as the drying conditions pushed many drivers to the limit.
After making the switch to the dry tyres at the correct time he briefly rose to third place after the fourth safety car period but was powerless to stop Sebastian Vettel charging through.
Despite narrowly missing out on the podium for the second time in his maiden Formula 1 season – equalling his best result of fourth in Hungary – Verstappen says he took more satisfaction from this race thanks to a flawless performance.
“There were some very good battles out on track and I'd say this was the most complete race of the season so far,” Verstappen said. “Everything worked out as it should have, I made no mistakes and the team did a perfect job with the strategy, making all the right calls.
“It was a bit of a crazy race. I didn't get the best getaway but I dived up the inside and got past something like three guys which was very good. From then on the pace wasn't too bad, we could keep up with the Ferraris and then stuck behind the Force India became of their impressive straight-speed. I had a lot of enjoyable battles, especially with Raikkonen, maybe he didn't enjoy it though but I did!
“From then on we didn't make any mistakes and made the call to switch the dry tyres at the right time. It was very difficult to pick a right time because you don't want to go too early because you might lose a lot of time. But in the end I heard over the radio someone else was on slicks and it wasn't too bad so I said okay now we go.”
In another outstanding performance from the youngest driver in F1 history his 12 points gained in fourth place enabled him to leapfrog both Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg in the F1 drivers' championship and into the top ten.
After the race Verstappen was asked whether he believed he was exceeding expectations, which he agreed with and is targeting even greater things before the end of the season.
“I think so yes,” he said. “I think with the points we've scored it is quite impressive and I am quite happy with that so hopefully we can score some more in the upcoming races.”