Verstappen: F1 title fight ‘not going to be easy’ despite points lead

Max Verstappen knows the Formula 1 title fight against Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes is “not going to be easy” despite regaining the championship lead in Turkey.

Verstappen: F1 title fight ‘not going to be easy’ despite points lead

Verstappen moved six points clear of Hamilton at the top of the drivers’ standings after finishing second in a damp Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul Park on Sunday.

Hamilton entered the weekend with a two-point advantage, but was forced to start 11th on the grid after an engine penalty. He recovered to finish the race fifth, albeit after Mercedes opted to risk keeping him out longer on his first set of intermediates to try and finish even higher, leading to some frustration over the radio.

Verstappen failed to put up any real challenge to race winner Valtteri Bottas, who scored his first win of the year for Mercedes with an advantage of 14.5 seconds at the chequered flag.

Verstappen felt that Mercedes was “definitely quicker this weekend” and that Red Bull “didn’t get it together”, proving that even after regaining the championship lead he would face a tough challenge to win the title.

“In the wet, they seem to have a bit of the edge as well,” Verstappen said.

“We’ll have to analyse of course why we were not competitive here, and I do think they probably stepped it up a bit more.

“Even with the points lead, it’s not going to be easy.

“I think I said it before we even started the weekend, so far we’ve had a really good year. It’s not going to change the world for me if I finish first or second at the end of the day. But I’m always going to give my best.

“We’ll see again in Austin how it’s going to go. We won’t give up, we’ll always try to do the best we can.

The Red Bull team cheer from the pit wall as Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, 2nd position, crosses the line

The Red Bull team cheer from the pit wall as Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, 2nd position, crosses the line

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

“Hopefully in the end, for the championship, it is going to be enough. But if it isn’t, I’m not going to sleep less.”

Verstappen had sat within a couple of seconds of Bottas at points in the opening stint, and looked to gain an advantage by switching to a second set of intermediates before Mercedes came in.

Mercedes reacted one lap later to ensure Bottas retained his lead, with Verstappen then opting against charging to try and cut the gap in the closing stages to ensure he kept second.

“Considering our whole weekend, being a bit off-pace compared to Mercedes, I think we had quite a decent race,” Verstappen said.

“There was no point where I could attack Valtteri, and he was just managing his race also very well and looking after his tyres.

“Also I had Charles [Leclerc] quite close behind me in the first stint, he had very good pace as well. At one point, I said yeah, the tyres are pretty gone, they were completely work to slicks, so it was quite tricky out there when the track is like it was.

“So we decided to box, and basically after the stop, 20 laps to go I think, just decided to bring it home. I anyway didn’t have the pace to fight Valtteri, so there was also no need to be within two or three-tenths to try and just follow him.

“[I] just saved the tyres to the end basically.”

shares
comments

Related video

Wolff: Mercedes' F1 Turkish GP gamble on old inters was worth it
Previous article

Wolff: Mercedes' F1 Turkish GP gamble on old inters was worth it

Next article

Mazepin: “Driving blind” in dirty spray caused near-miss with Hamilton

Mazepin: “Driving blind” in dirty spray caused near-miss with Hamilton
Load comments
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Plus

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Plus

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. JAMES NEWBOLD hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwarts

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Plus

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Plus

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022
The steps Norris took to reach a new level in F1 2021 Plus

The steps Norris took to reach a new level in F1 2021

Lando Norris came of age as a grand prix driver in 2021. McLaren’s young ace is no longer an apprentice or a quietly capable number two – he’s proved himself a potential winner in the top flight and, as STUART CODLING finds out, he’s ready to stake his claim to greatness…

Formula 1
Jan 9, 2022
The original F1 maestro who set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton Plus

The original F1 maestro who set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton

Juan Manuel Fangio, peerless on track and charming off it, established the gold standard of grand prix greatness. NIGEL ROEBUCK recalls a remarkable champion

Formula 1
Jan 8, 2022
How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam Plus

How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam

George Russell joining Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes this year gives it arguably the best line-up in Formula 1 – if it can avoid too many fireworks. After serving his apprenticeship at Williams, Russell is the man that Mercedes team believes can lead it in the post-Hamilton era, but how will he fare against the seven-time champion? Autosport heard from the man himself

Formula 1
Jan 6, 2022
How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications Plus

How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications

OPINION: The Formula 1 season just gone was the second to be completed under the dreaded shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in many ways it was much more ‘normal’ than 2020. Here’s the story of how the championship’s various organisers delivered a second challenging campaign, which offers a glimpse at what may be different next time around

Formula 1
Jan 5, 2022