Max: ‘I’m two tenths faster than Lewis in same car’

Henry Valantine
Lewis Hamilton Max Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen claims he would be able to beat title rival Lewis Hamilton if they were racing in equal machinery.

Verstappen had led much of Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, before a dramatic tyre failure and a crash at almost 200mph ended his afternoon just a few laps from the end.

Hamilton believed after the race that his lack of pace compared to Verstappen came down to Red Bull having the faster car around the streets of Baku, to which the Dutchman offered a quick retort.

“I would say that too if I were him,” Verstappen told reporters after the race, originally quoted in Dutch by “I think if I’m in his car I’m still two tenths faster than him. I don’t care what he says.”

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The Brit also failed to score points after he had his own incident upon the race’s restart, by skidding off at the first corner with an accidental flick of a switch that dramatically altered his brake bias.

Despite this, however, Verstappen thinks his time to capitalise on Mercedes’ troubles may be over for now – as the Silver Arrows have performed well on more standard circuits so far this season.

“It seems like we have the upper hand over Mercedes on street circuits. That’s exactly why I would have liked to score more points,” he said.

“Of course it makes a difference [that Hamilton didn’t score], but of course I would have preferred to have walked away [with the win].

“I’m sure on normal circuits it becomes a lot harder to have a race like we had here. Our car was very good, but I honestly expect a very strong Mercedes on normal circuits.

“I feel bad about this missed opportunity to run out of points. We need those points over the whole season, especially when we go back to normal circuits.”

With a tight title battle that could potentially swing at any moment, the Dutchman believes the odd mistake is part and parcel of what could be a race down to the wire for the 2021 Drivers’ Championship.

He said: “Everyone is trying to do their best, right? I’m not going to say he makes mistakes because he feels pressure. Everyone is trying to get the maximum out of it, including me.

“Lewis has to fight this year not only with his team-mate but also with another team. That adds an extra dimension and I think that’s only good for the sport.”

While the two title protagonists suffered misfortune to drop themselves out of the points, Verstappen reserved praise for team-mate Perez as the Mexican helped the team edge further clear in the Constructors’ Championship standings.

“Was that a dream scenario for the team? Absolutely,” the Dutchman added. “Sergio had a good race by sitting in front of Lewis, so it was actually a top day for the team. That in-lap and the quick stop, that was all super.

“I think Sergio is a bit more comfortable in the car now. For the rest of the season that’s very positive for the team.”

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