Verstappen irked as motivation questioned

Date published: September 3 2020

Max Verstappen bull mask

Max Verstappen found it “incredible” to be asked if Mercedes’ dominance in 2020 was affecting his “motivation”.

After a strong finish to 2019 the Dutchman came into this season with high hopes of mounting a challenge for his first World Championship.

And while Verstappen is arguably in the form of his life, the Red Bull RB16 isn’t quite on the level of Mercedes‘ W11.

Verstappen has won a race this year though, that coming at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix where he dominated proceedings, so he found it “incredible” when his motivation was questioned as he spoke to the media ahead of the Italian Grand Prix.

“I don’t understand why people think you wouldn’t be motivated,” he said.

“You have one of the best jobs in the world, you’re driving super fast cars. And I’m driving third or second, and I had one win. So I find it incredible that people think you wouldn’t be motivated.

“It’s really stupid. I love what I’m doing. Every weekend I come here and I love driving the car, and I want to of course try to challenge them, but if it’s not possible I settle for the best result possible in the car I have, and then I’m still enjoying it.”

Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has been highly vocal in the run up to the Italian GP, saying the title race is still “wide open” for Verstappen.

The gap to Hamilton is 47 points, but Verstappen says in all likeliness Red Bull are “too slow” to win the World Championship.

“Well, we won’t give up, but I’m very realistic that at the moment we’re just too slow. We need luck to win races and actually gain some points back,” he admitted.

“Like at the moment it looks like we’re still in a championship fight, but every race I’m more or less losing seven points, so at one point it will of course be very big, the gap. Like I said, just being realistic, I think it’s good.

“But every single weekend I try to of course get the best out of it. I mean, it’s not like I’m down or anything, but be realistic. I think in Spa again, we were half a second slower a lap, compared to them, so you can’t really fight them at the moment.”

Red Bull pushed hard for the ‘quali mode’ ban which will come into effect from the Italian GP, but the only good Verstappen sees in it is the fact that he won’t have to work as hard in the cockpit.

“To be honest, it just makes everything a bit easier,” he said.

“Not that it was very difficult before, but you just stay in one mode in the restart, or to start, and it’s a bit better I guess.

“After qualifying normally we are not allowed to change anything on the car. But we were allowed, of course, to change the engine mode.

“So I guess if you want to go in that same direction I guess it’s a good thing to do that as well with the engine.”

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Verstappen does expect the technical directive to bring Red Bull a few tenths closer to Mercedes in qualifying, but doesn’t think it will do him much good in the race.

“I think for them it’s a couple of tenths, for us not so much,” he told Sky F1.

“But at the end of the day, maybe you get a bit closer in qualifying but then when you look a the race – Spa as well – I’m maybe half a second slower, and that is not going to change because in the race you are racing normal modes.

“I don’t expect any miracles, I’m realistic, and it would be a bit foolish to think suddenly we are going to be faster than them. I’m always very realistic. So I expect to be maybe a little bit closer in qualifying, but the race is going to be the same.”

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