Max Verstappen welcomes Mercedes threat in Formula 1 2022: ‘They can steal points off Ferrari!’

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Max Verstappen holds an 80-point lead over Charles Leclerc and hopes Mercedes’ return to form hampers Ferrari’s title challenge even further; Season resumes with Belgian GP on August 28, live on Sky Sports F1

Last Updated: 17/08/22 7:47am

Max Verstappen has welcomed Mercedes’ re-emergence at the front so they can “steal more points off Ferrari” – and insists that the championship is not over despite his mammoth lead.

Verstappen holds an 80-point advantage over Charles Leclerc after back-to-back victories before the summer break, and it would represent the biggest points overhaul in the sport’s history if he were to fail to claim the title.

Verstappen’s victories in France and Hungary also saw both Mercedes drivers finish on the podium, with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell benefiting from their team’s improvements after a below-par start to 2022.

While Mercedes getting back into the fight may make Verstappen’s season more difficult, he is relishing their return.

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Max Verstappen says that Red Bull chose the right strategy and that played a big part in him winning the Hungarian Grand Prix

Max Verstappen says that Red Bull chose the right strategy and that played a big part in him winning the Hungarian Grand Prix

“It’s good that they are competitive because then they can steal more points off Ferrari!” said Verstappen.

“So I’m very happy. They’re doing very well.”

Verstappen is also taking nothing for granted in the title battle, pointing to Red Bull’s rollercoaster Hungarian GP – where they struggled in qualifying and had reliability scares in the race – as an example.

“Of course, it’s a great lead,” he said. “But we cannot have too many days like we had in qualifying.

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Red Bull principal strategy engineer Hannah Schmitz explains how the team masterminded Max Verstappen’s brilliant victory in Hungary

Red Bull principal strategy engineer Hannah Schmitz explains how the team masterminded Max Verstappen’s brilliant victory in Hungary

“And even in the race, we had a few little issues with the clutch and the upshifts, which was not great to drive. Overall, of course, it’s good, but we just keep on working, keep on trying to improve things.”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner echoed Verstappen’s view.

“It is a very healthy lead but there is an awful lot of racing to go,” he told Sky Sports F1.

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Lewis Hamilton said he is feeling really excited about the second half of the season after finishing P2 at the Hungarian GP

Lewis Hamilton said he is feeling really excited about the second half of the season after finishing P2 at the Hungarian GP

“Things can go wrong, we had some reliability issues in the [Hungary] race with the clutch and that could have quite easily been a DNF but thankfully it wasn’t.

“So, there are some areas that we can still improve on and there is an awful lot of racing still to do.”

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