Max Verstappen talks ‘attacking’ Valtteri Bottas after Turkish Grand Prix difficulties

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Max Verstappen admits there was “no point” in attacking the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas during the Turkish Grand Prix as Red Bull “didn’t have the pace” on track to bring the fight to them. Mercedes beat both Red Bull drivers to achieve a front row lock-out, however Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen’s main title rival, was relegated back to P11 after taking a fourth engine change of the season.

The automatic penalty for Hamilton meant his team-mate Bottas started on pole, with Verstappen lining up alongside the Finn on the front row.

As the lights went off, Bottas stormed away to turn one, with a poor start from the 24-year-old, who continued to struggle to keep on the tail of the Mercedes the entire race.

The Dutchman finished almost 15 seconds behind Bottas at Istanbul with his team-mate Sergio Perez crossing the line in third.

Despite an almost textbook fight back from outside of the top ten, Hamilton had to settle for fifth, meaning Verstappen reclaimed the lead of the championship by six points heading to Austin.

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But reflecting on the race, the Red Bull driver was left questioning why Mercedes seemed so strong during the race.

“In the beginning, I just tried to follow Valtteri but, of course, we had to manage the tyres so I just dropped back a bit and at one point we started to pick up the pace, also because the track was drying a bit,” Verstappen said.

“But there was no point where I would attack Valtteri and he was just managing his race, of course, also very well and looking after his tyres and I had Charles quite close behind me in the first stint.

“He had very good pace as well. At one point I said the tyres are pretty good, like they were completely worn to slicks, so it was very tricky out there.

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“Of course, when the track is like it was, we decided to box, and then after the stop, with like 20 laps to go, I just decided to bring it home.

“Anyway, I didn’t have the pace to fight Valtteri, so there was also no need to try to be within two, three tenths, to try and just follow him. Just save the tyres to the end, basically.”

Verstappen was heard complaining on the radio throughout the race that his steering was heading further and further “left-hand down,” meaning the wheel was tilting towards the left.

The Dutchman also experienced problems with his gear shifting too, however added neither would be a huge concern in the title fight.

“No, it was not the gear shift,” Verstappen added. “There was a word next to the number where I can see the gears which was not disappearing, so I had to change one rotary and it was fine, so it was not performance limited.

“The steering was a bit left-hand-down, but also of course the tyres are wearing so you get a bit of an uneven platform but I could feel this already from the start.

“Again, this is not performance-limiting but it’s better to say it than say nothing.”

F1 continues in a fortnight’s time in Austin for the USA Grand Prix for round 17 of the championship. 

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