Max Verstappen picks out what Mercedes ‘always deny’ as he makes Red Bull vow for Monza

F1: Hamilton v Verstappen in numbers

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Max Verstappen has vowed to build upon his successive wins to start the second half of the season despite the advantage he says Mercedes have over his Red Bull team heading into the next race. After victories in Belgium and at his home circuit in the Netherlands, the 23-year-old is hoping to make it three wins from three in this triple-header.

Verstappen started on pole at Zandvoort and had a lightning quick start, giving himself a 1.5-second cushion after just one lap and setting the tone for what would be a successful afternoon for the Dutchman in front of his adoring home fans.

Despite changing to slower tyres than Lewis Hamilton behind, the Red Bull man defended his lead so well Mercedes decided to abandon the chase and pit Hamilton for fresh rubber so he could secure the extra point for fastest lap.

The result means Verstappen has gained a narrow three-point lead at the top of the drivers’ championship, and remains in the fight to deny Hamilton a record eighth world title.

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The Dutchman was full of praise for the efforts of his team in the aftermath of his victory.

“It’s difficult to put into words,” he said. “A lot was expected of me this weekend, but we did it. It’s been a really positive week,

“You need a car to be able to win a race, and we did – we had a very good car. We pulled it off, and it was a real team effort.”

Up next on the F1 calendar is the Italian Grand Prix, a race which favours the Mercedes cars which are faster on Monza’s long straights.

While Verstappen admitted that puts him at a disadvantage, he vowed he and his team will do everything they can to level the playing field.

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He said: “They are quick on the straights. Yes [I am too] but not as quick as them. But we will work hard to make up for that top speed loss, and we’ll try to give it our all.”

The Red Bull star also reflected on the experience of winning in front of his home crowd for the first time in F1, and praised the tens of thousands of fans dressed in orange who turned out at Zandvoort to cheer on one of their own.

“As you can hear already, it is incredible because the expectations were high going into the weekend and it’s never easy to fulfil that,” he said.

“But I’m so happy to win here and to take the lead as well in the championship.

“It’s just an amazing day with the whole crowd. Incredible.”

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