Max Verstappen responds to Mercedes using Valtteri Bottas tactic to help Lewis Hamilton

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Max Verstappen has given his thoughts on the Mercedes team tactics as they tried to wrestle control of the Dutch Grand Prix away from the home favourite. The Silver Arrows tried to come out on top in an intense tactical battle at Zandvoort, but ultimately could not stop the Red Bull star winning to the delight of the adoring home crowd.

Verstappen raced away from pole as the lights went out, but the two Mercedes cars worked together behind him to ensure the gap did not become insurmountable.

As Lewis Hamilton changed on to the extra set of medium tyres Mercedes had and Verstappen was forced to go onto the harder compound, it looked as though the three-second advantage the Dutchman had after exiting the pit lane would be eroded away.

But he managed to keep his title rival at arm’s length, to the point Mercedes in the end decided to abandon the chase for a race win and bring Hamilton into the pits with two laps to go for fresh tyres and a tilt at ensuring he secured the extra point for fastest lap.

“Lewis was putting us under pressure the whole race, both cars are super close. It’s all in the details at the end of the day,” Verstappen told Sky Sports after the Grand Prix.

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With team-mate Sergio Perez starting from the pit lane due to a change in power unit against Parc Ferme rules, Verstappen had a job on his hands to keep the two Mercedes drivers at bay on his own.

Christian Horner told Sky Sports just before the race began he was hoping AlphaTauri racer Pierre Gasly, who started fourth, would be able to split the two Silver Arrows and remove some tactical options for Toto Wolff.

While the Frenchman could not manage that and was eventually lapped along with every other driver who did not finish on the podium at Zandvoort, a strong team effort from his pit crew meant Verstappen was able to fend off the challenge himself.

He said: “From our side, we did everything well as a team. We made a good start, we made the right calls with the pitstop. And made sure we had the right gap.

“They threw everything at us, keeping Valtteri out to make it difficult for me which is fair play.”

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He referred to Mercedes’ instruction over the radio to Bottas, who with three laps to go had completed purple times in the first two sectors and was asked to abandon his attempt at the fastest lap.

While the Finn did ease up a little, he did briefly take the extra point away from his title-hunting team-mate before Hamilton took it back on the very final lap.

Despite success this time around, Verstappen knows he and his Red Bull team have their work cut out to keep their rivals at bay next time out at Monza, a track which suits the Mercedes car more.

The Dutchman said: “The car is probably good at some areas, and maybe worse than others. They have more top speed and power still so Monza will suit them better.

“I do think it’s in the little details, you have to really work on the set-up. You can get some more lap time on the balance of the car.”

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