HOCKENHEIM, Germany, Jul 29 – Max Verstappen wrote off his own chances of a driver’s championship win on Monday despite his second victory for Red Bull in three races in the tumultuous German Grand Prix.
The 21-year-old Dutchman said, despite a nightmare weekend, Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton, who is 63 points ahead of him, remained favourites to take both the constructors’ and the drivers’ titles again.
“Close the gap?” he said.
“I don’t know. They are so (many) miles ahead in the championship. It’s still a lot, isn’t it? It’s more than two victories and they are still the dominant team.”
Hamilton’s gift-wrapped two points for being promoted to ninth after time penalties for the Alfa Romeos lifted him 41 points clear of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the drivers’ championship with Verstappen third, a further 22 adrift, at the half way point in the 21-race season.
“We managed to do a good job in this race, but we still have to work very hard to close that gap and actually to fight, really, for the victory at every race. So, there’s still a lot of work to do.”
Red Bull proved on Sunday they are ready for the scrap with a dazzling display of pit-stop skill and speed, including one – of five for Verstappen – that was the fastest ever in Formula One.
Red Bull had set a record at the British Grand Prix when they pitted Pierre Gasly in 1.90 seconds, replacing all four wheels in that time.
In Hockenheim they exceeded that by servicing Verstappen in 1.88 seconds.
Such speed has boosted the team’s confidence and given them a sense of momentum in their pursuit of Mercedes and Ferrari.
But it was not the only record-breaking feat in an extraordinary and chaotic race.
Robert Kubica, who was elevated to 10th following the Alfa Romeos’ penalties, scored his first point in F1 for eight years since the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. It was also the Williams team’s first point of the season.