Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Melbourne, 2018

Verstappen: Title fight is between Hamilton and Vettel now

2018 Austrian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen believes the Formula 1 championship fight is between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel now.

Hamilton heads Vettel by 14 points heading into this weekend’s race. Verstappen’s team mate Daniel Ricciardo is their next-closest rival, but is 35 points behind Vettel.

“They more or less keep winning the races so you are losing points to them,” Verstappen told media including RaceFans at the Red Bull Ring.

The Red Bull driver said he’s “not sure” he is likely to figure in the fight for the championship as he is only sixth after the first eight races. Ricciardo is 28 points ahead and the pair are separated by Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen.

Verstappen believes these drivers are the ones he has the most realistic chance of beating this year.

“I am definitely catching up to the other guys. I was a bit far down but I think in the moment it doesn’t look too bad.”

“The guys in third, fourth they look a bit closer because they have in the beginning of the season a bit better points-scoring,” he added. “But in general I don’t think they are a real part of the championship fight.

“Mainly it’s between Lewis and Sebastian.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 18 comments on “Verstappen: Title fight is between Hamilton and Vettel now”

    1. Vettel fan 17 (@)
      29th June 2018, 9:10

      Don’t say. I though that was pretty obvious even pre-season

    2. Slow day?

    3. Dan still has an outside shot. Anything is possible.. Seb and Vettel colliding or throwing away points .. coupled with a consistent Dan and ever improving Red Bull. Maybe Max is out of it.. but his teammate isn’t quite out yet.

      1. Seb and Vettel colliding

        Well I wouldn’t put it past him.

      2. Seb and Vettel colliding!? I know he has been criticised but not yet crashed with himself!!

        1. @paulcook I think Grosjean is the only one who could manage that feat!

        2. @paulcook

          Sorry.. Meant Seb and Lewis :p

          1. Ahaha, funny one though, seb and vettel!

      3. Dan can barely beat his teammate when he finishes a race, leat alone Lewis and Vettel.

      4. If Dan still has an outside shot so does Bottas. His luck has been appalling, he’s driving well and he’s in the quickest car on the grid.

    4. Lewis is going to clinch this year’s championship. Seb just not doing a good enough job.

      1. In my very humble opinion (which will definitely get flak from other readers here).. I don’t think Seb is capable of winning a championship unless he has a car that is clearly the quickest. In his Red bull years, whenever Red bull was competitive, but not dominant (1st half of 2012, first half of 2013) Vettel wasn’t really all that special. However, when Red bull got a clear advantage on other cars, then he maximised his opportunity to go on winning streaks. I just don’t see Ferrari establishing that kind of advantage on Mercedes, so I honestly just don’t see Sebastian taking the title.

        1. @todfod But I suppose you could say the same for LH, who barely squeaked through for his first WDC, having nearly thrown it away on a final weekend that saw Massa in fact do everything right when the pressure was at it’s greatest. LH’s next WDC(s) came in an utterly dominant car.

          Max’s viewpoint obviously comes more from the car standpoint than the drivers when he says both Merc and Ferrari more or less keep winning the races. If we look at the Constructors, since almost always the WDC had the WCC winning car, or at least a very very close second place one, Ferrari sits only 23 points back of Merc, while RBR sits 73 back, alone in third. Mercedes remain the benchmark as the defending Champs and the ones leading the fight right now, so it remains up to Ferrari to keep the upgrades coming and keep up the see saw battle with Merc. Tons of season yet. And no easy task to overcome the team that many predicted going back to the engine homologation rules, up to and including the likes of Zak Brown last year, saying Merc would continue to dominate through 2020. Ferrari put in a great effort last year only to fall quite a few points short in the end in the WCC, so at a minimum let’s hope we have a much closer WCC fight for the rest of this season.

          1. @robbie
            The McLaren wasn’t a dominant car in 2008 though. It was second in performance to Ferrari. I agree that Lewis made mistakes, and nearly let it slip in 2008, but he didn’t have a car that was hands down quicker than the Ferrari. Similarly, in 2010, McLaren was the 2nd to 3rd quickest car that year, yet Hamilton managed to take the title fight down to the last race. Alonso has done the same in 2010 and 2012. He nearly sealed the championship in the 3rd quickest car in 2012. As I said, it’s only my personal opinion, but I don’t think Seb can get the job done when it’s really close at the top. He needs that car advantage to get in to a winning rhythm. Not sure if Ferrari is the team to offer him that opportunity.

            Agree with what you said about Max’s statement. The difference in the WCC is 73 points to Mercs, so it’s quite a huge challenge to overcome. It all depends on the development race though.. and I thought it’s a little early for him to make this statement, because Red Bull are probably the strongest team in terms of in-season development. By some miracle of nature, if Renault actually delivers on the PU side, we could see red Bull being the team to beat in the 2nd half of the season. It’s wishful thinking perhaps .. but we’ve seen more bizarre things happen in F1.

            1. @todfod Fair comment.

        2. @todfod

          In his Red bull years, whenever Red bull was competitive, but not dominant (1st half of 2012, first half of 2013) Vettel wasn’t really all that special

          Vettel actually led by 38 points after the first half of 2013, when Red Bull were indeed competitive, but not dominant.

    5. There’s a lot of truth in his comment. It comes down to the ability to out perform Hamilton and Vettel. As the season progresses the effort required to consistently out perform them gets increasingly more difficult. The most obvious people to do this are Raikkonen, Bottas, and Ricciardo.
      There’s 13 Grands Prix left. The difference in points between first and second is 7, so everyone within (13 x 7 = ) 91 points of Hamilton has a chance of beating him if they won every one of those GP and he finished second. The only additional driver other than those three just mentioned that has enough points to do this is Max Verstappen.

    Comments are closed.