Max Verstappen raises Mercedes concerns as Lewis Hamilton aims to regain championship lead

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Max Verstappen believes Red Bull could have a mountain to climb at the Italian Grand Prix, as Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes look to regain the lead of the championship after the Dutchman dominated in Zandvoort.

Mercedes have a strong track record at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, with Hamilton racking up five wins alone at the circuit, with four of the wins coming in the current turbo-hybrid era in Formula One, however, he has not won in Italy since 2018.

Verstappen meanwhile has never finished higher than fifth at the circuit and last year failed to finish the race after abandoning his car in the pit lane on lap 31 after a series of technical problems that plagued him from the start, in a jumbled up race won by Pierre Gasly in an AlphaTauri.

Hamilton had his own problems during the race with various incidents as well as a hefty penalty for coming into the pitlane when it was closed, however, he will be looking to overcome a three-point deficit over his main championship rival.

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Verstappen, who has won the last two races, did raise concerns however about the strength of the Silver Arrows in front of the Tifosi.

“I expect Monza to suit Mercedes as it hasn’t been our best track for the last few years but this year we are more competitive so you never know,” he said.

“If we continue what we have been doing, working well together as a team, and nail every little detail then we can be competitive but Mercedes might have a top-speed advantage on us.”

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Verstappen regained the lead of the championship after a dominant performance in front of his home fans last weekend, with a lights to flag win in the Netherlands.

Yet the 23-year-old believes there is no clear advantage in the championship, as Red Bull hope for another strong weekend from the Dutchman in Italy.

“I don’t think either us or Mercedes have a big advantage over the other,” added Verstappen.

“At Zandvoort, you could see in qualifying and the race that both of our cars are super close, and Lewis was applying pressure for the entire race.

“That meant we couldn’t afford to make any mistakes on the track, in the pit lane or on the pit wall, and we didn’t.

“I think it’s the finer details where you can make a difference. When you enter a race weekend you have to work hard as a team on the set-up and fine-tuning the little details. That’s where the gains can be made.”

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