Max Verstappen is relishing back-to-back races at Silverstone as the Red Bull driver looks to make up ground on Formula One title rival Lewis Hamilton. The fourth and fifth races of the 2020 season see the F1 circus return to the United Kingdom, where seven of its 10 teams are based.
Verstappen heads into the first of a British Grand Prix double-header, with the second race named the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix to distinguish it, trailing six-time world champion Hamilton by 30 points.
The Dutchman managed to clinch a podium finish despite crashing his car on the way to the grid before the race even began at the Hungaroring earlier this month.
He finished ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, who is second in the driver’s standings and just five points adrift of his team-mate Hamilton, though in recent campaigns he has struggled to produce a sustained .
With Ferrari lagging well behind the Silver Arrows and Red Bull, Verstappen appears the only hope if Mercedes are to be denied a seventh straight title.
Hamilton is looking to draw level with Ferrari icon Michael Schumacher on a record seven championships this year, with what would be a fourth straight triumph.
And victory at Silverstone, where he is a six-time winner and has only failed to finish first once since 2014, this weekend would further solidify Hamilton’s hopes of cruising to another title.
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Verstappen has only finished on the podium once, back in 2016 in his first season at Red Bull, but insists he loves the track and cannot wait to get into battle.
“We know the areas we need to work on and with Silverstone being a home race close to the factory, that’s good news,” the 22-year-old said.
“I think we can hopefully get a good result there, historically it’s been a pretty good track for the team, and it’s one I really enjoy driving.
“Silverstone is a great track to drive. The corners are really fast. At Silverstone you need to get the right wing level and for the lower speed corners you’d rather have more downforce and grip.
“It may rain, of course, even though it’s summer in Britain! But I like those conditions and maybe we don’t mind if it starts raining, because that might shake things up.”
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 last week, Verstappen acknowledged the challenge that Mercedes will pose.
“I think it will be very hard, of course, to beat them,” he said.
“But I think it’s important for us now to understand where it went wrong and then, of course, correct it and try to learn from it and try to get it back on track.
“And as soon, of course, as you head into the right direction, then of course very quickly you can put a good amount of parts on the car – but first we need to really understand where the main critical problem is in the car.”
And Hamilton too is hopeful of some added competition this season, having emphatically seen off the challenge of Sebastian Vettel and Bottas in recent seasons.
The Brit said: “I think the Red Bulls have been doing a great job and I’m sure at some stage they’re going to make some improvements as we get into the season.
“I’m hopeful we will still find some challenges up ahead. Would I like more of a battle from the others? Absolutely.”
While Mercedes boss Toto Wolff warned: “I’m not sure I’m seeing the competition fall apart. We can see that Red Bull was struggling all through the weekend [at Hungary] and then they had a pretty decent race car.
“It’s 30 points after three races that we have with Lewis to Max. If you have one DNF, the gap is gone.”
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