Max Verstappen says he 'drove hard' to defend from Kimi Raikkonen in the closing stages of the race as he played down the Finn's criticism over his aggressive defence of fifth place.
Having claimed podiums in the previous two races, Verstappen qualified fourth at the Hungaroring and held position initially after his strong getaway was rebuffed by a defensive Lewis Hamilton on the run down to turn one.
Though he felt he was faster than Red Bull Racing team-mate Daniel Ricciardo ahead, Verstappen says being unable to stay close to him in the dirty air ultimately cost him the chance to create a gap large enough for him to make a stop and get out in front of Kimi Raikkonen on an alternative strategy.
As such, Verstappen would spend 15 laps bottled up behind the yet-to-stop Ferrari, losing him a position to Sebastian Vettel and ultimately a shot at the podium.
“The pace was there for a podium today. I felt like I had a good start and got close to Lewis into Turn One but then ran out of track and couldn't brake late. After the first stop it was very frustrating to be behind a Ferrari at the start on the fresher tyres. It was a shame because at the beginning we were quick and I tried to create a gap to the Ferraris which led to me having to back off as I got too close to the car in front.
“This meant when I pitted I got out behind them both and that was pretty much my race done. Being behind meant I destroyed my tyres trying to find a pass so the opportunities went away as the race went on.
Reflecting on his boisterous battle with Raikkonen towards the end of the race, Verstappen was dismissive of the Finn's assertion that he was aggressive when they made contact at Turn 2.
“Regarding my battle with Kimi I was simply protecting my position. I drove hard and just made sure I didn't lock up or make a mistake.”