Verstappen leads the drivers’ standings by 208 points, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc trailing by 170.
Max Verstappen of Red Bull finished ahead of the Ferraris to take pole position for the Austrian Grand Prix. AP
France, Le Castellet: On Thursday, world champion Max Verstappen admitted that his Red Bull Racing team had learned from “a few wrong calls” at the recent Austrian Grand Prix and that they would face another fierce battle for victory in Sunday’s French race.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s French Grand Prix, the 24-year-old Dutchman expressed hope that Mercedes, resurrected by another package of upgrades, would not join the expected battle for victory with Ferrari.
When asked about a challenge from seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, he responded, “Maybe they are (a threat).” “I’m hoping not!”
Red Bull and Ferrari have won all 11 races this year, but Mercedes hopes their revival will continue on the fast-paced circuit.
Verstappen leads the drivers’ championship with 208 points, 208 points ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who won in Austria a week after teammate Carlos Sainz won the British race.
“In retrospect, I believe we made a few bad decisions in Austria,” he told reporters.
“But, of course, with a sprint weekend format, changing that (car set-up) after the first free practice is very difficult, and I think we learned a lot from it.”
I believe our top speed was still adequate, but when you’re losing a little more than you’d like in the corners, it’s always going to be a difficult day, and that’s exactly what happened.
“I’m hoping that with what we’ve learned, we’ll be back to our normal form — but even if we are, I think the race will be very close.” So I anticipate the same here.”
Verstappen predicted that Ferrari would be strong again as they sought their first hat-trick since 2019, and he acknowledged that Hamilton could also compete at the front after three consecutive podium finishes.
Hamilton confirmed on Thursday that he is still hopeful of winning this year, allowing him to keep his unique record of being the only driver to have won a race in every season of his career.
Mercedes has regained speed and consistency with their upgrades after a disappointing start to the season, and they arrive at the Paul Ricard circuit in high spirits, hoping the smooth, fast, and flowing layout will suit their car.
“I’m working hard to get that win, and I believe we will be able to compete with these guys at some point, whether it’s this weekend or in five races,” Hamilton said.
“The journey is what matters. We started out not where we wanted to be, but we’ve made progress and have begun to find consistency. ” When we finally get back to where we belong, I believe we’ll appreciate it even more.”
Hamilton will compete in his 300th Formula One race on Sunday, making him only the sixth driver to do so.
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