Max Verstappen says his victory in the Dutch Grand Prix came after he felt Mercedes was going to run away with the championship during the summer break.
Opening-lap incidents in both Britain and Hungary cost Verstappen the lead of the drivers’ standings, with Lewis Hamilton winning at Silverstone and eventually being classified second in Budapest. However, it was the pace shown at the latter that worried Verstappen, and he says Red Bull needed to show the response it did at Zandvoort.
“For me, they did pole position in Silverstone — even though of course it didn’t count as a pole position — and they were ahead in Hungary, where they definitely had more pace than us, just looked better,” Verstappen said. “But of course Hungary was a crazy race…with the wet and the start.
“So I think you shouldn’t look at stats, I think you should look at the realistic pace and not always look at the race result, because I definitely think that they would have won Hungary if everything went normal. That’s why I really felt, in the break, I was like, ‘We really need to speed things up here because otherwise they’re going to run away with it’ and I think we did — we did pick it up a bit.
“I feel like we still need a bit more but it’s heading in the right direction. Also, you have to see that there are still quite a lot of different kind of tracks coming up, so it will definitely swing both ways and we just have to keep on it and keep pushing and keep bringing new bits for the car.”
With Hamilton’s last victory in a race that didn’t include an incident for Verstappen coming in Spain, the defending champion believes it is Mercedes that needs to find a bit more performance.
“We’re giving it absolutely everything — even since the first race these guys (Red Bull) have had such a strong car all year and we’re trying as hard as we can,” Hamilton said. “Yeah, we had a couple of races where it looked like we just about were on par or just slightly ahead but there’s been only a couple of those and then they took a big leap and it’s been difficult.
“It’s been so close — you can’t really overtake in a lot of these places we’ve been to previously as we are so closely matched, but there’s nothing really more I can say. We just have to keep our heads down, keep pushing. We are ahead in the team championship, which is great, but of course we need to pick up some speed if we want to win races in the future.”