The Red Bull driver received a five-place grid penalty that dropped him to seventh on the grid at Qatar after he was found guilty of not respecting double-waved yellow flags in qualifying. 

But Verstappen brilliantly fought his way up to finish second behind F1 title rival Lewis Hamilton, who closed the gap in the world championship to just eight points heading into the final two races of the 2021 season. 

"No surprises there,” Verstappen said to Sky of his penalty. “I knew already last night that I never get presents from them, so it’s okay. 

“At the end, once I knew I was starting seventh, I was just very motivated to move ahead and that’s exactly what we did. We had a good first lap, and then after five laps, we were second again. 

“I just tried to keep the gap small, which we did throughout the whole race, so they couldn’t do an extra stop and it gave me the fastest lap at the end. So I was definitely happy with that.” 

Asked if he really feels hard done by by the stewards, Verstappen replied: “I don’t want to talk about it too much because I don’t want to give anyone the pleasure to talk about it even more. But it’s of course not great.” 

Verstappen believes he probably had the pace to challenge Hamilton for victory had he started from his original starting spot in second. 

“I did the extra stop so the gap was, of course, a bit bigger than it was the whole race,” he explained. 

“In general, throughout the whole race it was seven, eight seconds, so that isn’t too bad. We were a little bit too slow so that of course naturally means, after qualifying, the race is going to be tricky as well. 

“But we just need to try and stay focussed, and there are two races to go and as you can see, a lot of things can happen even in a qualifying, so anything is possible.”