Sport Verstappen felt like "sitting duck" against Hamilton in Spain fight
Pressure building on Red Bull at Portimao after Hamilton's Imola escape
Lewis Hamilton came second at Imola despite an awful crash, ensuring he again leads the standings heading to Portimao.Superstar Max Verstappen has finished second and first over the opening two weeks, yet he still trails Lewis Hamilton by a point. Mercedes are also on top again in the constructors' championship, seven points clear even after Valtteri Bottas crashed out of the epic Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen says he felt like a “sitting duck” in the fight against Formula 1 rival Lewis Hamilton in Spain following the Mercedes driver’s second pit stop.
Verstappen muscled past polesitter Hamilton on the long run down to Turn 1 on the opening lap, and was able to keep the British driver at bay through the opening stint.
But a decision by Mercedes to run a long first stint and then pit Hamilton for a second time with 24 laps to go put the seven-time world champion on course for victory in Spain.
Hamilton was able to make up the 22-second gap to Verstappen and overtake for the lead with seven laps remaining, with Red Bull only then bringing its driver in for a second time to go for the fastest lap bonus point.
Portuguese Grand Prix LIVE: Lewis Hamilton leads as Verstappen passes Bottas for second
Portuguese Grand Prix LIVE: Lewis Hamilton sweeps past Valtteri Bottas to take the lead of the race.Portuguese Grand Prix LIVE:
Verstappen accepted after the race that there was little he could have done to beat Hamilton following Mercedes’ decision to pit him a second time, knowing how big the tyre delta was.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B
Photo by: Jerry Andre /
“In a way I could see it coming,” Verstappen said.
“Already at the end of the softs, he was faster, then when we put on the mediums he clearly had a lot more pace, he could just stay within one second.
“So, there was not much we could have done. They went for another stop and then I knew it was over because I was already struggling with the tyres, and you could see it every lap he was just getting closer and closer.
“[I was a] bit of a sitting duck.”
Max Verstappen backed to win Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes title fight by making one change
Max Verstappen currently sits eight points adrift of Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers' Championship standings.Hamilton was pipped to pole by team-mate Valtteri Bottas in qualifying, and slipped to third with seven laps gone at Portimao with Verstappen sneaking ahead at the safety car restart.
Verstappen was heard during the second stint of the race calling Hamilton’s grip advantage “insane”, having seen a lead of 5.5 seconds get wiped away to less than half a second.
“When you're in the lead with the cars in traffic and stuff, you don't want to pit in traffic, but of course it makes it a lot easier when you just have a clear advantage,” Verstappen said.
“Of course if we would have jumped for another stop, I'm not sure if we would have caught up again, just really lacking pace. But nevertheless, I tried everything I could.”
The result continued Mercedes’ remarkable record at the Spanish Grand Prix, the team having won the race in seven of the last eight years.
But Verstappen did not take much heart from the fact Red Bull had pushed Mercedes so close, saying it proves the team still has a deficit to recover.
“It shows that we are not yet where we want to be,” Verstappen said.
“We still have to push hard and and catch up, because at the moment we are a little bit slower.
“But still, compared to last year I think it has been a big jump for us.”
Grand Prix practice results: Ferrari’s Leclerc fastest in Monaco .
Charles Leclerc set the fastest overall time on the opening day of Monaco Grand Prix practice for Ferrari on Thursday, the fifth round of the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship season. © Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21 Both Thursday practice sessions in Monaco have each been cut to one hour in 2021, instead of the usual 90 minutes each.FP1 was topped by Red Bull's Sergio Perez, and Leclerc was fastest in FP2 – leading a Ferrari 1-2.Monaco Grand Prix FP1 results: Perez fastest from SainzClaDriverChassisLapsTimeGapInterval1 Sergio Perez Red Bull36 1'12.487 2 Carlos Sainz Jr.