Max Verstappen was a picture of pain on Sunday when a tyre blowout robbed him of a probable win in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. “Sometimes you can hate this sport," said the Red Bull driver after crashing in the closing stages with the sixth leg of the season at his mercy. Emerging from his car’s cockpit he kicked the shredded left rear tyre in frustration - evoking the scene in the British 1970s sitcom when Monty Python star John Cleese as Basil Fawlty gives his broken down car a serious beating. Verstappen, who started from the second row despite crashing in third practice on Saturday, drove a supremely controlled race, avoiding all the mayhem behind him until with five laps to go he suffered cruel luck with his 200mph crash on Baku’s long pit straight.
His frustration was tempered however when Lewis Hamilton locked up his Mercedes after the restart when trying to overtake eventual race winner Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull to finish pointless in 15th.
That left Verstappen retaining his four-point lead over the seven-time champion ahead of the next race, the French Grand Prix on June 21.
“Frustrating and very disappointing so close to the finish to retire with a tyre blowout," said Verstappen.
“It’s a big shame. Sometimes you can hate this sport — for a few hours, then I’ll be fine again.
“Honestly up until that point it was a great day — the car was on fire, I was just matching whatever I needed to do behind me, I was quite comfortably in the lead.
“It would have, let’s say, have been an easy win. But, of course, there are no guarantees in the sport."
Verstappen posted the fastest lap but failed to pick up the normal extra point as he had not finished the race.
He was full of praise for his Mexican teammate Perez.
“It should have been a one-two but nevertheless to see him win the race was very nice to see.
“He’s a great team mate and I think he had a great day today as well. He was doing everything that he should be doing as well, so was great to see."