Max Verstappen was wary of reading too much into his Sprint victory on Saturday at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.
The current world champion started the day on pole but lost his lead at the green light, with current drivers’ championship leader, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, nipping in ahead of him.
Leclerc held the lead for much of the race but was ultimately reeled back in as his tyres faded and the young Dutchman was able to activate DRS to regain the lead in the closing stages.
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Nevertheless, while Verstappen moved onto 33 points in the overall standings, Leclerc actually extended his lead at the top, currently on 78 points and 40 clear of teammate Carlos Sainz behind him.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the conclusion of the Sprint, Verstappen said: "The start was very bad. I don't know exactly what happened but after that we had to stay calm. Initially it looked like Charles had more pace but I think he ran out of tyres and I was able to close the gap.
“I know tomorrow will be different. Happy to have a clean Sprint race in the end.
"I am happy about today but I know tomorrow with other tyre compounds coming in it will be different."
Leclerc was disappointed but not hugely so with the late loss of the pole for the full race, but was content to start on the front of the grid next to Verstappen.
"It's still a front row start,” he explained.
“We struggled with the tyres at the end, so we need to analyse that for tomorrow. We need to make sure that we're ready.
"The pace was good until then, we started to have some draining on the front left and lost it towards the end. That's life, we'll go to work and come back stronger tomorrow."
Meanwhile, Sergio Perez will be in behind stablemate Verstappen and challenger Leclerc, and hoped to put pressure on from third.
"I think it was important to minimise qualifying from yesterday,” he began.
"With the red flags we didn't put the lap together when it mattered.
"Today we managed to recover and we are in a position to be in the fight tomorrow.
"It would be ideal to get a 1-2, that would be great for Red Bull, but maybe not for the Tifosi but we will try."
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