In a season in which Mercedes, Aston Martin, Ferrari and McLaren have all recorded a P2 at a grand prix, George Russell reckons F1 would be “so exciting if Max Verstappen and Red Bull weren’t here”.
As Red Bull continue their march towards a season’s whitewash, the team recording 11 wins in 11 grands prix while also finishing P1 in both Sprint events, the reigning World Champions not only have the 1-2 in the Drivers’ standings but have scored more than double the points in the Constructors’ of the second-placed team.
That position is currently held by Mercedes, who are 42 points ahead of Aston Martin with Ferrari a further eight off the pace while McLaren, the most improved team of late, are closing in fast.
‘I think behind the Red Bulls there is a really great competition’
Although Red Bull have secured one P1 after another, the four behind them in the standings have all finished runner-up at least once, or in the case of Mercedes, Aston Martin, and McLaren, twice.
Take Red Bull out of the equation and that means this year the sport could have had four different teams winning races. It could’ve been a thriller but alas as Lewis Hamilton admits, closing the gap on Red Bull to become a race winner is easier said than done.
“As we develop, everyone else develops so the gap is not so easy to close,” he explained to fans in the Belgian fan zone on Saturday.
“But to get a pole position last week [Hungary] was incredible, and I think yesterday [Friday] I was only a tenth off pole… well with Max out of the window.
“I think behind the Red Bulls there is a really great competition between the Astons, the McLarens and us and Ferrari.”
Russell chipped in: “Formula One would be so exciting if Max and Red Bull weren’t here at the moment.”
Conceding Red Bull deserve respect for what they have achieved this season, the team setting a new record for the most wins in a row, 12, and in doing so breaking McLaren’s 35-year-old record, Russell says behind them the fight is pretty good.
“I mean we super respect everything they do and if you do a great job you deserve the victory,” he continued.
“The fight for second best team at the moment between us, McLaren, Ferrari and Aston is pretty exciting.”
And beating those three rivals to second place is very much Mercedes’ goal for this season.
“That’s the goal for us, to make sure we get the team into second place this year. We just have to give absolutely everything,” said Hamilton.
“I think we can definitely improve in the second phase of the year. We have an upgrade this weekend and a big, big thank you to all the team back at the factory. It means so much to them to be second this year especially where we’ve come from.”
Mercedes will line up on the Belgian Grand Prix grid with Hamilton P3 and Russell eighth with Mercedes trailing Red Bull by 226 points to 460 in the Constructors Championship.