F1

Lewis Hamilton delivers honest Red Bull verdict after Max Verstappen heroics at Dutch GP

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Lewis Hamilton has admitted that Red Bull produced their best performance of the season at the Dutch Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon, with the seven-time world champion highlighting the strength of their progress in recent weeks. The race was won by Max Verstappen, who regained a slender lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings with a deserved victory in front of a 70,000-strong home crowd at Zandvoort.

The Dutchman managed to keep Hamilton behind off the line and into Turn 1 before quickly building up a comfortable gap at the front.

Mercedes tried to throw a spanner in the works by putting Hamilton on a two-stop strategy and keeping Valtteri Bottas out for an extended first stint in an attempt to hold Verstappen up.

However, the Red Bull man was simply too quick and took the chequered flag after 72 laps to cap off a faultless performance behind the wheel.

Hamilton gave it everything but was ultimately helpless to prevent Verstappen from sealing his seventh Grand Prix victory of the season and earning a narrow three-point lead in the standings.

Speaking after the race, Hamilton admitted that Red Bull are currently quicker than ever, with Mercedes needing to improve in order to regain their advantage over the Austrian outfit.

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“They put in an upgrade at the last race and they’re quick,” said the 36-year-old.

“That’s the quickest I think they’ve been all year. I think they’ve taken a bit of a step ahead.”

Mercedes and Red Bull will do battle once again at the Italian Grand Prix later this month as Hamilton aims to nip back in front of Verstappen in the standings.

Switching his focus to the next event at Monza, the Stevenage-born racer hinted that an improved performance could well be on the cards, with the challenges posed by the circuit set to be very different from those at Zandvoort.

“I really don’t know how it’s going to go,” added Hamilton.

“We will be on lower downforce and maybe we can be closer there, maybe. But it’s going to be tough.

“We just keep our heads down and keep working, keep pushing. We are ahead in the team championship, which is great, but of course we need to pick up some speed.

“That’s what we want, to be able to win races in future.”

Meanwhile, Verstappen revealed that Red Bull’s improvements came as the result of a significant developmental push over the summer break.

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However, he warned that the Drivers’ Championship title fight remains anything but a foregone conclusion, with eight races still to be run between now and the end of the season.

“I really felt in the break, I was like: ‘We really need to speed things up here because otherwise they’re going to run away with it’,” said Verstappen.

“And I think we did, we did pick it up a bit. I feel like we still feel a bit more but it’s heading into the right direction.

“Also, you have to see that there are still quite a lot of different kind of tracks coming up, so it will definitely swing both ways and we just have to keep on it and keep pushing and keep bringing new bits for the car.”

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