Lewis Hamilton's 'natural ability is fantastic' says Button
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Max Verstappen has warned that Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton could have an advantage over Red Bull in the next few races after Sunday’s British Grand Prix. The Dutchman currently leads the Drivers’ Championship standings after winning five of this season’s nine races to date.
Meanwhile, Hamilton sits 32 points adrift of his Red Bull rival in second place as he chases a record-breaking eighth individual title.
The 36-year-old has failed to occupy the top step of the podium since taking victory at the Spanish Grand Prix back in May, but will fancy his chances of a revival at Silverstone this weekend.
He will race in front of a 140,000-strong home crowd on a circuit that has been dominated by Mercedes in recent years as he looks to chip away at his points deficit with immediate effect.
Giving his verdict on the Austrian Grand Prix last time around and the challenges that lie ahead for Red Bull, Verstappen suggested that Hamilton could be in line to claw his way back into title contention before too long.
The 23-year-old said in a press release that he is not prepared to dwell on previous results, underlining that Mercedes may well enjoy a performance advantage over the next few weeks as this year’s championship battle heats up.
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“We’ve started the season off really well and of course I’m very happy about that, but we have to keep on pushing,” declared Verstappen.
“We can’t just be thinking about our results so far. It’s going to be really tight and a challenge for the rest of the year but that is what makes it exciting.
“We were for sure ahead in Austria and our car was very good there but in France, we only won with a few laps to go, so the championship is very close and maybe even closer than the points show at the moment.
“There are some tough tracks coming up where Mercedes may have the edge on us but we have a great team and we are doing everything we can to try and stay ahead.”
This year’s British Grand Prix will see the introduction of an all-new sprint qualifying format which is being trialled for the first time in F1 history.
The starting order for Saturday’s sprint race, which will decide the grid for the main event, will be established with a session on Friday evening in a departure from the tried-and-tested knockout system.
Hamilton has already questioned the necessity of the new format, with the seven-time world champion suggesting earlier this month that sprint races are unlikely to enhance the drama of the event for spectators.
However, Verstappen opted to reserve his verdict until after the weekend, pointing out that the lack of preparation time has the potential to shake things up at the front of the grid.
“I’m very open about trying the sprint races and I quite like that we have a bit less practice before we head into qualifying,” he said.
“But let’s just wait, it’s difficult to say anything about it until we’ve tested it this weekend.
“Every race you take risks but controlled risks, especially when you are fighting for a championship, but this one race isn’t going to define the end result.”
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