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
Remembering Switzerland’s first F1 winner Prime

Remembering Switzerland’s first F1 winner

Stepping up to F1 in 1962, Jo Siffert shone with Rob Walker Racing Team and BRM before his career was abruptly ended in a fatal crash at Brands Hatch in 1971. Kevin Turner looks back at the life of Switzerland's first F1 winner on the 50th anniversary of his death

What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat Prime

What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat

OPINION: Max Verstappen is back in the lead of the 2021 Formula 1 drivers’ championship, with the season’s final flyaway events set to get underway in the USA this weekend. But a defensive stance he’s recently adopted could have a lasting impact for the Red Bull driver when it comes to his chances of defeating Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes

The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest Prime

The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest

Despite appearing to adjust to life as a Ferrari driver with relative ease, it was far from straightforward under the surface for Carlos Sainz. But, having made breakthroughs in rather different routes at the Russian and Turkish races, he’s now targeting even greater feats for the rest of the Formula 1 season

Formula 1
Oct 20, 2021
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.

Formula 1
Oct 18, 2021
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