Max Verstappen has Lewis Hamilton expectation as he vows to change Baku woes

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Max Verstappen stormed to the top of the standings in Monaco two weeks ago, overtaking the seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton by four points heading to Baku, Azerbaijan on Sunday.

Victory meant Red Bull were also able to take control of the Constructors’ standings, albeit by just a single point, a huge shift in the seven years of Mercedes supremacy.

Verstappen has yet to stand on the podium in Baku, with his best finish of fourth.

In stark contrast, Mercedes have taken both pole position and victory at three of the four races held on the street circuit since 2016.

But the Dutchman admitted he had no time to get carried away, and it would be business as usual for Mercedes come Baku.

“[Monaco] was a very good weekend and of course I’ve never stood on the podium there before so it was very nice to get the win,” said Verstappen. “Taking the lead in the championship feels good but we need to be there at the end of the final race, that’s all that matters.

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“I do expect Mercedes to come back strong [in Baku]… The track is okay but probably not a favourite of mine if I’m honest. I’ve never been on the podium there so it’s time to change that.

“Let’s see how competitive we are. Where we are now feels good and of course it shows that we had a decent start to the year. But we have to keep on pushing because we still need to improve and do better.”

Hamilton meanwhile, after surrendering the lead of the driver’s standings, was less optimistic about Azerbaijan after a tough weekend finishing seventh in Monte Carlo.

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The race in Monaco was already a damage limitation for Mercedes after Hamilton started the race from seventh place, sixth after the retirement of polesitter Charles Leclerc, and team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who was running second, had his hopes dashed by a wheel nut jamming during a pit stop.

“I would be guessing but it’s another street circuit, another one that is really cold and a very smooth circuit, so it’s another one we could easily struggle at, similar to here,” Hamilton told Sky Sports.

“We’re just going to have work and see how we can minimise that loss.

“We underperformed as a team all weekend from the get-go.

“We’ll just put our focus onto the next race and congratulations to Max and his team: they did a great job.”

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