Red Bull star and reigning Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen admitted he is ‘very happy’ his Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton is finding form as he hopes the Silver Arrows will take points off Ferrari.
Ferrari started the season on fire with Charles Leclerc winning two of the first three races as he held a solid championship lead over Verstappen. However, as the season has unfolded, Red Bull have found form while Ferrari have suffered from a combination of errors in crucial moments and strategical blunders.
It means Leclerc now finds himself 80 points behind Verstappen, who has won eight Grands Prix in this 2022 season. The Ferrari man crashed out from the lead at the French Grand Prix, opening the door for Mercedes to enjoy their best result of the season.
Both Hamilton and teammate George Russell made it onto the podium for the first time since the former Williams man switched to the octuple world champions. The W13 performance at the Circuit Paul Ricard and the Hunagororing – where the Mercedes duo once again finished P2 and P3 respectively – means the earlier problems linked to the porpoising phenomenon appear to be a thing of the past.
After admirably fighting from 10th on the grid to take the win, Verstappen was asked about the increasing threat of Mercedes amid a deteriorating battle against Leclerc. The Dutchman surprised reporters by suggesting a competitive Mercedes was a ‘good’ thing.
“No, it’s good that they are competitive because then they can steal more points off Ferrari,” Verstappen said. “So I’m very happy. They’re doing very well.”
The 24-year-old’s answer comes after Hamilton was quizzed on the likelihood of winning a race in 2022. The seven-time world champion has won a race in each year of his career since he made his debut with McLaren in 2007, and he is optimistic about taking the checkered flag this season.
“I hope so,” Hamilton declared. “That’s what we’re working towards. I think today there was potential for… I think this weekend, there was a potential for a win.
“You saw George on pole. I think if we had both been up there, I think we probably could have worked a bit better together as a team. One of us would have had to support each other strategy-wise. But I think if we are able to take this pace into the second half of the season for sure we can start to fight with the guys. This is the first time we’ve been able to fight and battle with a Ferrari. That’s huge for us.
“I think the Red Bulls probably still are ahead. The fact that Max started 11th (sic) and spun and still was 10 seconds ahead says enough about their car but I think we still have made huge progress and huge steps. And so to have this consistency and two double podiums in these last two races gives us great hope and a huge push for the second half.”
The 22-race F1 2022 campaign continues with the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps on August 28 after the four-week summer break.