With Mercedes having made up ground, Max Verstappen says it is now up to Red Bull to find the “one or two-tenths” they’ve taken back.
Although Lewis Hamilton led the early charge this season, Verstappen was right up there with him, the title protagonists trading first and second in the opening four races.
The pendulum then swung in Red Bull’s favour.
Winning four of the next five grands prix, Verstappen arrived at the British Grand Prix, round 10, with a 32-point lead over Hamilton.
Mercedes said at the time that one DNF would change the picture and that’s exactly what happened as Verstappen crashed out after contact with Hamilton. The Brit went onto slash his lead in the title race as he overcame his penalty to win at Silverstone.
Another crash followed in Hungary, leaving Verstappen to limp home in ninth place. That cost him the lead in the championship, the Dutchman now trailing Hamilton by eight points.
But it is not just in the standings where he feels Mercedes have taken a step forward, Verstappen saying they have also closed the gap out on track.
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Lewis Hamilton's P2 in Hungary gives him an 8-point lead over Max Verstappen after 11 races
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 1, 2021
He told De Telegraaf: “It’s now up to us to keep working to find the one or two-tenths of a second that Mercedes has taken back during the season.
“They were so dominant the years before. In that respect, we are in a much better position this season.”
He added: “We’ll have to see what else we can get out of the car. In Hungary, for example, Mercedes introduced a new floor.
“I’m sure we can make it an exciting battle. We always have a good chance to win and don’t have to give up all of a sudden.”
Mercedes on the other hand have stated that they are done with upgrading their W12.
Despite Verstappen believing Mercedes had a new floor in Hungary, motorsport boss Toto Wolff says the latest upgrades for the car were introduced at Silverstone.
“In terms of aerodynamic development, we stopped a long time ago,” said Wolff.
“The last development stopped in spring and the last upgrade that was then produced we brought to Silverstone, and that upgrade functions.
“We have made a step forward.”