Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has conceded that Max Verstappen is in a “league of his own” at the front of the Formula 1 grid at the Red Bull Ring.
The Dutchman has been in red-hot form of late, winning three of the last four races ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix to keep him clear of nearest rival Lewis Hamilton in the World Championship standings.
Mercedes, meanwhile, have never lost four races in a row in the turbo hybrid era and are very much playing second fiddle to Red Bull across all fronts.
And that has led Wolff to simply hold his hands up and say that Verstappen is operating on whole other level compared to Hamilton and the rest at the Red Bull Ring.
— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) July 3, 2021
“I think Max is in a league of his own, but maybe we can crack the others,” Wolff told reporters ahead of seeing Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas line up P4 and P5 respectively on the Austrian Grand Prix grid.
“There is no special place where we lose a lot of time. The loss is spread over the entire lap.
“The gap to Max is not shocking, but as I said, we lose over the entire lap. It’s not just the tyre, the chassis, the engine, it’s all of it. We see that we have to improve in every respect.”
Ahead of trying to win a third race in row, Verstappen has expressed some concern over the softer tyres in action at the Austrian Grand Prix but is still hopeful of success.
He said: “Of course what we like is to have both cars in the front so we look forward now to try to have a good race and score a lot of good points for the team and hopefully it works out well.
“We have softer compounds of course than last weekend so it will be a bit more difficult to manage those, but it’s the same [problem] for everyone.”