Verstappen: F1 title fight won't 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 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.

“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.”

Read Also:

shares
comments

Related video

Bottas: Turkey win one of my "best ever" F1 races
Previous article

Bottas: Turkey win one of my "best ever" F1 races

Next article

Vettel takes responsibility for dry F1 tyre call in Turkey

Vettel takes responsibility for dry F1 tyre call in Turkey
Load comments
The factors that could negate Red Bull's practice gap to Mercedes Prime

The factors that could negate Red Bull's practice gap to Mercedes

Mercedes led the way in practice for Formula 1’s first race in Jeddah, where Red Bull was off the pace on both single-lap and long runs. But, if Max Verstappen can reverse the results on Saturday, factors familiar in motorsport’s main electric single-seater category could be decisive in another close battle with Lewis Hamilton...

Formula 1
Dec 4, 2021
Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer Prime

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer

Earning praise from rivals has been a welcome sign that Lando Norris is becoming established among Formula 1's elite. But the McLaren driver is confident that his team's upward curve can put him in the mix to contend for titles in the future, when he's hoping the compliments will be replaced by being deemed an equal adversary

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention Prime

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention

After a disastrous 2020 in which it slumped to sixth in the F1 constructors' standings, Ferrari has rebounded strongly and is on course to finish third - despite regulations that forced it to carryover much of its forgettable SF1000 machine. Yet while it can be pleased with its improvement, there are still steps it must make if 2022 is to yield a return to winning ways

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Prime

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Motorsport.com's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer Tim Wright explains.

Formula 1
Dec 1, 2021
How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison Prime

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells Stuart Codling about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021