Verstappen finished fourth in Baku, having been gaining on the race-leading Mercedes and Sebastian Vettel’s third-placed Ferrari before the VSC caused by his teammate Pierre Gasly parking in an escape road.
“I was catching up seven/eight seconds over that stint, so that was all good, but as soon as we got to the virtual safety car, I lost a lot of temperature,” said Verstappen.
“It seems like our car is a maybe a bit more sensitive to that, or we’re just not on top of the tyres. I don’t know – otherwise we would’ve of course fixed that.
“It was a lot more difficult after that, I was just sliding a lot, and around here if you don’t have the grip, you can’t take the risk into the corner and you lose a lot of laptime.”
He believes the issue was specific to the Baku track conditions rather than being a fundamental Red Bull weakness.
“I think it’s just something on this track where it’s already very slippery, it seems like we are just not on top of it yet,” said Verstappen.
Verstappen was the last of the eventual top four to make a pitstop in the first part of the race.
“Maybe it was too late. But on the other hand, I was also catching them a lot in the end,” he said. “It was all looking good for us, if there was no virtual safety car – but that you can never plan.”
Red Bull ordered Verstappen to avoid the Turn 16 kerb in the final part of the race.
“I think Pierre had a driveshaft failure, that’s why they told me to stay off the kerbs, just to minimise the angle on it,” he replied when asked about the instruction by Motorsport.com.
“And then also the last few laps I just stayed off all kerbs, but of course in the infield it’s a lot of laptime. But anyway I didn’t have the grip anymore. I knew I was going to be fourth anyway.”