Verstappen feels ready to fight Hamilton for 2018 title

Red Bull's Max Verstappen says he feels ready to challenge four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton for the Formula 1 title in 2018.

Verstappen feels ready to fight Hamilton for 2018 title
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing with Magnus Walker
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing with Jay Leno
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing helmet
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing with a Aston Martin BD11
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing with Jay Leno
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing with Jay Leno
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Hamilton sealed his fourth crown in Mexico eight days ago, as Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel finished fourth, which wasn't enough for the German to stay in contention.

Mercedes driver Hamilton, who finished ninth after a difficult drive following an incident with Vettel exiting Turn 3, said afterwards that he is looking forward to battling it out with Verstappen, who won the Mexican Grand Prix in dominant fashion, next year.

"Yeah, that was great," Verstappen told Motorsport.com regarding Hamilton's remarks at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, where he was asked by Red Bull Racing partner Mobil 1 to perform a demo with the 2011-title winning RB7.

"He is a great driver and he really deserved it this year because he was the most consistent and fastest driver from the guys who were fighting for the championship. But yeah, I would love to [fight with Hamilton]. Hopefully we can do that already next year."

Verstappen is confident he can put up a good fight against Hamilton.

"Of course, otherwise I wouldn't be driving in Formula 1. I would do something else if I thought I was not able to do it."

Asked if he thinks he's performing at the same level as the Mercedes driver at the moment, Verstappen said: "Difficult to say, we are not in the same car and I haven't really been in the same position as him. And I also don't think about it. I just focus on what I have to do."

Never expected wins in 2017

The 20-year-old Dutchman won his second grand prix of the season just over a week ago at the Autodromo Hermamos Rodriguez in Mexico, after having triumphed in the Malaysian Grand Prix a couple of weeks earlier.

For Verstappen, the latest string of good results comes as a complete surprise, after having experienced a difficult year up to his win at Sepang.

"I would have never expected to win a race [this year]", Verstappen said. "But already in Singapore, with the fuel upgrade we had there, I think we got a lot more competitive and we continued that trend.

"And when you are improving faster than the others around you then you can fight for victory. But I never really expected it because of my bad luck and stuff, but it was great to still achieve that."

In Mexico, Verstappen grabbed the lead shortly after the lights went out by going round the outside of Vettel in Turn 1 and saw the German and Hamilton end up at the back of the pack after they made contact coming out of Turn 3, forcing both to make an early pitstop.

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko told Motorsport.com that Verstappen would have also won without Vettel and Hamilton coming together and Verstappen agrees.

"Yes, absolutely", he said. "Because it was like a Sunday drive up front. I also had a lot of margin."

Fuel updates 'crucial' to success

For this season Red Bull switched from Total to ExxonMobil for its fuel and lubricants and Verstappen thinks the new supplier of the Milton Keynes outfit played a "crucial" role in the progress the team booked this season.

"We definitely saw the gains we made this year. They were a lot bigger than what we had the last three years. I'm very happy with that", Verstappen said.

ExxonMobil introduced fuel upgrades at the British and Singapore Grand Prix. On how these updates helped him in the car, Verstappen said: "More performance. Faster on the straights. And better life as well on the parts inside the engine.

"That's also very important, of course. And for next year, when we only have three engines, this will be very crucial."

"It's all about little details", Verstappen continued. "You do feel that everything is running smoother. But you can really see it on the data. I think that's the important thing."

Engine change a challenge for ExxonMobil

Red Bull Racing confirmed its switch to Mobil 1 race lubricants and Exxon Synergy race fuels in December of last year. For the US-based company this marked the end of a 21 year stint with McLaren in Formula 1.

Red Bull's chief engineer Paul Monaghan recently said that ExxonMobil's fuel and lubricants made the team advance roughly one grid slot in comparison since November 2016.

But the switch from Red Bull to McLaren - and going from a Honda to a Renault power unit - was far from easy, David Tsurusaki, global motorsports technology manager at ExxonMobil, explained to Motorsport.com.

"We actually had kind of a tough start", Tsurusaki said at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. "Well, maybe not a tough start but if we had more time we obviously could have done more.

"But with the short notice and short time to get ready we did a pretty good job getting our fuel and lubricants together by the early part of the season.

"And the fuel team and our Mobil 1 lubricants team are pretty good in understanding what's required for Formula 1. All we needed to do is kind of tweak our products to fit the engine and the design of the car."

"Changing engines obviously is a challenge", Tsurusaki continued. "But I think having a good starting point already with where we were in Formula 1, gave us a good step to make the final tweaks that were needed for this specific engine. So to get ready for Renault took a couple of steps for us. But after that we were right there.

"We did two upgrades on the fuel during the season. The second one started in Singapore and we were able to get a little bit more improvement. And we're already - fortunately already - working on the 2018 fuel."

Asked how big of a step ExxonMobil can make for next year, Tsurusaki answered: "Well, our target minimums are 0.5 percent so that's where we're shooting for. But each time we do a development step it gets harder and harder to do. But we're shooting for another 0.5 percent."

shares
comments
Hamilton "fell asleep" in early part of 2017 - Villeneuve

Previous article

Hamilton "fell asleep" in early part of 2017 - Villeneuve

Next article

F1's 2021 engine proposal a "good concept" - Steiner

F1's 2021 engine proposal a "good concept" - Steiner
Load comments
The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team Prime

The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team

Emerson Fittipaldi is better remembered for his Formula 1 world championships and Indianapolis 500 successes than for the spell running his eponymous F1 team. Despite a hugely talented roll call of staff, it was a period of internal strife, limited funding and few results - as remembered by Tim Wright.

Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence Prime

Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence

In the 1960s and 1970s, McLaren juggled works entries in F1, sportscars and the Indy 500 while building cars for F3 and F2. Now it’s returning to its roots, expanding into IndyCars and Extreme E while continuing its F1 renaissance. There’s talk of Formula E and WEC entries too. But is this all too much, too soon? Stuart Codling talks to the man in charge.

Formula 1
Oct 17, 2021
How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential Prime

How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential

Yuki Tsunoda arrived in grand prix racing amid a whirlwind of hype, which only increased after his first race impressed the biggest wigs in Formula 1. His road since has been rocky and crash-filled, and OLEG KARPOV asks why Red Bull maintains faith in a driver who admits he isn’t really that big a fan of F1?

Formula 1
Oct 15, 2021
The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages Prime

The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages

OPINION: After Lewis Hamilton responded to reports labelling him 'furious' with Mercedes following his heated exchanges over team radio during the Russian Grand Prix, it provided a snapshot on how Formula 1 broadcasting radio snippets can both illuminate and misrepresent the true situation

Formula 1
Oct 14, 2021
How F1’s pole winner approach undermines drivers Prime

How F1’s pole winner approach undermines drivers

OPINION: Valtteri Bottas is credited with pole position for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, despite being beaten in qualifying. This is another example of Formula 1 and the FIA scoring an own goal by forgetting what makes motorsport magic, with the Istanbul race winner also a victim of this in the championship’s recent history

Formula 1
Oct 13, 2021
Turkish Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Turkish Grand Prix driver ratings

On a day that the number two Mercedes enjoyed a rare day in the sun, the Turkish Grand Prix produced several standout drives - not least from a driver who has hit a purple patch of late

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for Turkey glory Prime

The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for Turkey glory

Starting 11th after his engine change grid penalty, Lewis Hamilton faced a tough task to repeat his Turkish Grand Prix heroics of 2020 - despite making strong early progress in the wet. Instead, his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas broke through for a first win of the year to mitigate Max Verstappen re-taking the points lead

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form Prime

How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form

A Formula 1 pitstop is a rapid-fire blend of high technology and human performance. PAT SYMONDS describes how the science of margin gains makes stops so quick

Formula 1
Oct 10, 2021