imageHOCKENHEIM: Dutch teenager Max Verstappen claimed he would have crashed into Nico Rosberg if he had not driven off the track to avoid him on his way to finishing third in Sunday's German Grand Prix.

The 18-year-old Red Bull driver, who claimed his fourth podium finish in eight races since promotion from the Toro Rosso team, came home behind his team-mate Australian Daniel Ricciardo.

Rosberg finished fourth after being given a five-second penalty for forcing Verstappen off the track when he passed him at the hairpin.

His Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton won the race to open up a 19-point lead ahead of Rosberg, who said he was using 'full lock' of his steering when he passed Verstappen, in the title race.

“Can you explain to them that I was full lock on the steering wheel and I couldn't steer more," said Rosberg, on Mercedes team radio, after he was informed of the penalty.

He also blamed Verstappen for moving under braking.

But the Dutchman hit back and said: “I think he was quite far back so he braked really late and, at one point, I thought he was going to run into me.

“So I opened up and he didn't turn in and I had to go straight and I had to go off track otherwise we would have crashed — Lewis knows," he added, referring to a similar incident involving Rosberg with Hamilton at the Austrian Grand Prix.

“It happened and he got a five-second penalty. So I was trying to stay within five seconds to get him back at the pit-stop."

His Red Bull team-mate Ricciardo marked his 100th Grand Prix by finishing ahead of Verstappen because he had the best of their alternative strategies for tyres, as they out-raced Ferrari to move ahead of the Italian team in the constructors' championship.

“I definitely think I took one for the team today," said Verstappen, who allowed Ricciardo to pass him during the race.

“But that's alright…. I think Daniel and I have a good relationship so we can do that. The most important thing was for us to be in front of Ferrari.

“That definitely worked today and we were even challenging Mercedes. We kept Nico (Rosberg) behind us on fair pace so that was good."

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2016