Max Verstappen has Qatar GP message for Lewis Hamilton after Mercedes' Brazil win

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has insisted he remains confident despite a commanding performance from Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton at the weekend, which saw the seven-time world champion close the gap to just 14 points in the driver standings.

Hamilton stormed to victory in front of an elated crowd after chasing down Verstappen in the second half of the race, overcoming two penalties across the weekend, including a disqualification.

But disaster nearly struck for the duo as they came close to tangling when Hamilton tried to take Verstappen on for the lead heading towards Turn 4.

The Dutchman defended his position into the corner, with Hamilton going around the outside to try and take the lead.

However, it didn’t work out and Hamilton was forced to take evasive action and bumped across the run-off area.

The stewards noted the incident but felt there was no cause for an investigation.

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Hamilton managed to overtake Verstappen 10 laps later, with Verstappen admitting he became a sitting duck.

“The decisive moment, I knew when we went through Turn 3 that he was going to get ahead because he was super-close,” said Verstappen. “But already, two laps before, I was really starting to struggle on traction and tyres, so I knew it was going to be really tough but you never know.

“I just tried to do the best I could and, of course, once he got by then, you know, I was hanging on with the tyres to the end.

“I like to win but also you can enjoy the battle, right? I mean, I was a bit of a sitting duck but in a way, I just tried to do the best I could – and that’s also, in a way, sometimes fun and nice for everyone watching.”

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Red Bull had dominated in Austin and Mexico, with Mercedes struggling to keep up, but Brazil told a different story.

Verstappen however has not been discouraged and insists he is feeling confident ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix this Sunday.

He added: “Of course [I was surprised by Mercedes’ speed], I would have liked to be a little bit closer, but it just seemed very tough for us here – and of course taking the new engine clearly gains them a bit of performance initially.

“But that will slowly come back to normal, maybe it looks a little bit more dramatic now but I’m confident that slowly that will be a bit more normal.

Verstappen had his 21 point lead cut to 14 thanks to Mercedes’ strong performance, with Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas finishing third.

But the Dutchman believes this ebbing and flowing has just been the story of the season.

“I mean it’s been like this the whole year, isn’t it,” he continued. “It went up, comes down, went behind, I’m back in front, so you know a lot of things can happen still.”



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