Hamilton keeping an eye on ‘title runner’ Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton believes Red Bull and Max Verstappen remain a force to be reckoned with this season despite the Briton’s healthy lead in the championship.

Hamilton currently holds a 37-point advantage over Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with six races on the board but eleven rounds to go.

Verstappen split the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in three of the last four events and winning the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone.

While many are predicting an open road to a seventh title for Hamilton, the 88-time Grand Prix winner refuses to put the cart before the horse when it comes to the fight for the world title.

“If you take the first race away with Max having the DNF [in Austria], I think if you look at the results, we’ve been very, very close in the points still,” said Hamilton.

“And obviously, [Red Bull have] had very strong results and are getting closer in races. Maybe in qualifying we do have the edge, but as I say, when it comes to the race, we’re generally a lot closer.

“We’re not even halfway through the season and so I absolutely keep my eye on them – I think they still are a title runner and so we need to stay on our toes.”

One can always count on Verstappen to fight until the very end, but the Dutchman is also a realist when assessing his results year-to-date and his prospects moving forward, believing that red Bull has “overachieved” so far this season.

“Looking at pure pace, they of course, both of them, they should be ahead of me in the championship,” Verstappen said, alluding to his Mercedes rivals.

“I had one retirement, [Bottas] finished out of the points with a puncture, so no points. But of course that was unlucky for him, and unlucky for me in the first race.

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“To be second in a few races where I think Mercedes had more pace, we definitely overachieved a bit. And besides that, I think we always maximised what we could. I’m very happy with that.

“As a team and myself, we are not here to be second or third, we want to fight for the championship, but you also have to accept the situation we are in, that we are not really able to challenge.

“It looks like it on paper, but if you look at the pure pace, we are too slow.

“At the moment, we are relying on a bit of an off day for Mercedes or a bit of luck to win a race. So there’s still a lot of work to do.”

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