Verstappen returns to top but Hamilton picks up speed


Oct. 11 (Reuters) – Max Verstappen reclaimed the lead of the Formula 1 World Championship from Lewis Hamilton in Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix, but champions Mercedes have gotten faster and alarm bells are ringing at Red Bull.

The 24-year-old Dutch driver finished second behind Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas at the Istanbul Park circuit, six points ahead of seven-time world champion Hamilton, who finished fifth.

At the same time, Red Bull was even further behind Mercedes in the constructors’ standings, with the gap now standing at 36 points, and team boss Christian Horner expressed surprise at how much his rivals had accelerated the rhythm.

“I think their straight line speed has taken a big step forward recently,” he told reporters.

“While we could match them to smaller wings before, we can’t get anywhere near them.

“We’ve seen it especially on this circuit where Lewis in particular had a significant straight-line advantage with a bigger rear wing on the car. We have to maximize our package as best we can.

“It is surprising that they seem to have taken the step they took with the Unity of Power.”

Verstappen told reporters Red Bull needed to find more rhythm.

“They were definitely faster this weekend,” he said. “We just couldn’t get along and also in the wet they seemed to have a bit of an advantage as well.

“I really think they’ve probably stepped it up a bit,” he added.

Hamilton had been the fastest in qualifying in Istanbul and would have started from pole position if his car’s engine had not been changed as a precaution, triggering a penalty of 10 grid places.

“We didn’t do anything to the car so I’m not sure why that is the case,” said the Briton, who won his 100th career record in the previous race in Russia, when asked about the performance improvement. .

“Maybe the two tracks we just rode suited us a bit more. The car feels good, it was great this weekend.

“If the car continues to perform the way it did this weekend, it’s good for us.”

The last three circuits – Monza in Italy, Sochi in Russia and Turkey – have all been good for Mercedes in recent years, but Red Bull has held up and performed well to limit the damage.

While Mercedes powered cars won all three races, it was Australian Daniel Ricciardo at Monza in a McLaren one-two after Verstappen and Hamilton fought each other.

Verstappen finished second in the other two, ahead of Hamilton in Istanbul, teammate Sergio Perez third and Bottas without threat in the championship.

“This is arguably the strongest Mercedes circuit we’ve seen so far this season, so having two cars on the podium and regaining the lead in the drivers’ championship is a positive day for us,” said Horner. .

“We’ve known the next race in Austin has been a stronghold of Hamilton for a few years now, but in Mexico, Brazil hopefully higher altitude races have tended to be pretty strong for us in the past.

“And then I really don’t know what to expect from the last three.”

Qatar and Saudi Arabia, racing ahead of the final in Abu Dhabi, are both new to Formula 1.

Report by Alan Baldwin, edited by Christian Radnedge

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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