F1: Red Bull's Verstappen gets in shape for new season
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Red Bull boss Christian Horner says Lewis Hamilton will have some “extra petrol in his tank” in front of the British fans as the seven-time world champion hopes to bounce back at Silverstone in two weeks’ time, but admit they don’t fear their rivals.
Max Verstappen took firm control of the driver standings after three back-to-back victories, extending his lead to 32 points over Hamilton.
Mercedes dropped even further behind Red Bull in the team’s fight too as the Milton Keynes-based team added an extra two points to their pot thanks to Verstappen’s victory in Austria, bringing their total to 44 points over the seven-time champions.
Valtteri Bottas finished on the podium in second place, while Hamilton had to settle for fourth with damaged picked up on the W12 through the race.
Yet, Silverstone should be a circuit that Mercedes suit, with a good chance to claw back some points over Red Bull and drag themselves back into the fight again.
And Horner admitted the British Grand Prix may not be an easy one for them.
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“We know Mercedes have been so strong at Silverstone the last seven years, they’re going to be mighty round there,” said Horner speaking to Sky Sports F1.
“Of course with the British fans supporting Lewis, that’s going to be more petrol in his tank.
“It’s the first of the sprint races as well so it’s going to be a different dynamic. But I think if we can carry this momentum into Silverstone then there isn’t really anything we should fear.”
“It’s fantastic to win this race. It’s our home race.
“Max drove an impeccable race, he didn’t put a wheel wrong, led every lap, fastest lap. A really clean race for him.”
Meanwhile, his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff was equally as defiant, adding that the title fight is nowhere near over.
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“I think in pace we probably could have been there, maybe not enough to win the race but right there, which is a step forward.
“Overall I think it’s damage limitation.
“I think we’re going to go to Silverstone, blow everybody away, finish one-two, 30 seconds in advance of everybody else!
Mercedes are hoping to bounce back to winning ways, after Red Bull have won six of the opening nine races, with Hamilton’s last victory back in Spain for round four.
“Here is quite a short lap so two-and-a-half tenths makes a big difference,” added the Austrian.
“Silverstone is maybe a bit different. It’s a little step and every little step counts.
“We could see the improvement from last week to here in terms of race pace.
“That was from understanding the car a little bit more.
” There are more clues we’ve looked at and I think we’re going to progress and eventually be in the race again.
“I’m always a sceptical person and I’m a glass-half-empty than half full.
“But we’re one DNF away from being right there in the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship. This is far from over.”
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