Max Verstappen rejects Lewis Hamilton excuse for Red Bull Bahrain GP advantage

F1: Can Lewis Hamilton do it again?

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Lewis Hamilton claims Red Bull have appeared quicker than Mercedes during this weekend in Bahrain because F1 made aerodynamic regulation changes during the off-season. Verstappen showed blistering pace throughout all three practice sessions and took the momentum into qualifying, securing pole position.

Mercedes have won seven consecutive Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships but their dominance seems to be under threat this term.

Verstappen is hoping to return Red Bull to their former glory, claiming his first world title in the process.

However, he is not accepting that he is only quicker than Hamilton because of aerodynamic regulation changes.

“It’s [been] our philosophy now for a long time of course,” Verstappen said. “I don’t think we can point it out on that.

“I think there have been a few factors, like we knew our weaknesses from last year and that’s not only the rake, it has to do with rake, so I think also from the engine side I think Honda has worked really hard to improve their engine and in general they’ve done a great job.”

Hamilton blamed the regulation changes for the Silver Arrows not locking out the front row.

“It’s no secret that that’s what the changes have… of course they’ve been done to peg us back,” the seven-times world champion claimed.

“We had the changes of course to our engine to do the same thing, but that’s okay, we love a challenge, we don’t look down on these things, we just work hard to do the best we can and that’s what we will do.”

However, Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas was not signing from the same hymn sheet.

“I like aero stuff, I’m a bit of a geek in some ways, like aerodynamics,” the Finn said.

“I’m really interested but I don’t know the facts, exactly how Red Bull’s cars’ aero philosophy… For sure, it’s higher rake but how much that’s going to affect with the new regs.

“I think they have a really strong package overall – their power unit, their chassis, their aero is good.

“They’ve done a good job over the winter and we need to do a better job.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton reckons his gap to Verstappen may increase as the race drags on.

“I think this is a really good step forward for us,” he added.

“Coming in this weekend we thought it was double the gap that you see today.

“And so that’s really down to some really fantastic work from the men and women back at the factory and people here [at the track]. Just collectively, just all pulling together.”

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