Max Verstappen gives Red Bull rallying cry in thrilling title race
Max Verstappen called on his Red Bull team to dig in and give their all in their fight to beat Mercedes in an exciting F1 title race.
A pitstop error meant Lewis Hamilton came fifth in the Turkish Grand Prix, and Verstappen’s second place meant he was ahead of his title rival at the top of the drivers’ standings.
The Dutchman is six points ahead of the seven-time world champion with six races remaining, but the current state of the constructors’ championship makes reading less enjoyable when it comes to Red Bull.
Valtteri Bottas’ victory in Istanbul combined with the points won by Hamilton meant that the Silver Arrows further increased their lead over rivals Red Bull, despite second and third places for Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
The gap is 36 points, a tough mountain to climb for a team hoping to end Mercedes’ dominance in the sport – the Brackley-based team have won the championship every year since 2014.
Verstappen was keen to point out that the last few races were on tracks more suited to the Mercedes W12 than Red Bull’s RB16B, but asked his team to give their all during the break-in.
“Of course, overall I think we’ve been on tracks that were naturally a little better for Mercedes, but this track was a little bit unknown and clearly they were ahead of us,” the 24-year-old told Sky Sports.
“I think we need to step up our efforts a bit to be in the fight until the end of the season.”
Red Bull were surprised to see Mercedes’ speed down the straights in Istanbul, with team manager Christian Horner hinting at his suspicions as to why.
“Lewis’s straight line speed was 15-20 km / h after the straight line bend which is phenomenal,” he said.
“When you have a straight line speed that is faster than an open DRS, it’s pretty impressive. It’s up to the FIA to keep looking at these things.
Verstappen added that he believed the Mercedes had been faster for “most of the season”, suggesting that Red Bull faced it again when taking on the Germans.
“Of course they’ve tuned their car so it’s a bit more obvious than the top speed they have,” said the Dutchman. “There is not much we can do.
“This is what we have to live with, it is not going to magically disappear but of course we will try to minimize the damage on the straights.”