Max Verstappen ‘confident’ he can repeat Styrian GP glory amid Lewis Hamilton battle

F1: Red Bull's Verstappen gets in shape for new season

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Max Verstappen extended his lead over Lewis Hamilton in the driver’s standings to 18 points after victory at the Styrian Grand Prix. The Dutchman looked untouchable in Austria after an electric start from pole position in a fairly uneventful race at the Red Bull Ring.

Verstappen crossed the line in Austria with a mighty +35.743-second lead over Hamilton, despite the Briton trying his hardest to find a way to close the gap at the Red Bull Ring.

“I mean, you never know of course how it’s gonna end up,” said Verstappen, when asked if it felt like an easy victory.

“But straightaway I felt good balance in the car, and it was good to manage the tyres basically from the start.

“Felt like to the end I had a little bit of tyres left, of course, they pitted one lap earlier than us, so we reacted to that and then we just kept on going, trying to hit our lap times, it worked really well for us.”

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Formula One remains in Austria for round nine of the championship, with Red Bull hoping to repeat their glory in a week’s time.

“That’s very positive [that we race in Austria again] but of course we have to show it again next week so we’ll definitely have a look at what we can do better.

“I’m looking forward to next week.”

Red Bull have been piling on the pressure all season, starting way back in Bahrain testing, where Verstappen wiped the floor with the opposition with his times across the three days.

Arguably, it’s the first time Mercedes have really felt the heat from a rival team since 2018, when Sebastian Vettel took the fight to Hamilton with Ferrari.

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Since Monaco, however, there has been a huge swing in the championship, with the Dutchman taking control of the standings thanks to a tough weekend for Mercedes.

Baku also lent itself nicely to Red Bull and, despite Verstappen suffering a tyre blowout, the team still walked away leading both the driver and the team standings with no points scored by their main rivals.

Hamilton and Mercedes looked to bounce back in France but, despite a vast improvement from the previous two races, a clever strategy call from Red Bull saw Verstappen extend his lead at the top of the standings to 12 points heading into two rounds at Austria.

And now with an 18 point lead, the Dutchman is keen to keep up the momentum.

He said: “Yeah, it’s looking really good, so we just have to keep on going, keep pushing really hard and then I’m confident that we can do a very good job again.”

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