Verstappen eyes F1 title after 'learning lessons'

By Sports Desk November 27, 2019

Max Verstappen has his sights set on the Formula One world title next season after learning valuable lessons in 2019.

The Red Bull star sits third in the standings heading into the season finale in Abu Dhabi, having won a third grand prix of the campaign in Brazil last time out.

That triumph at Interlagos represents part of a learning curve the team have been on which the Dutchman hopes will stand them in good stead going into next year.

"We learned a lot throughout the whole season – what went well and what we did wrong or didn't do so well," Verstappen told Sky Sports.

"We'll try to work over the winter of course to try and make everything better, the whole package.

"You can clearly see throughout the end of the year now [Red Bull have been strong], of course in general we have always been like that, but I really have a lot of confidence that it's not just now.

"I think we can really transform that into an early start next year. That's at least the target."

Asked if Red Bull can mount a title challenge and halt the dominance of Mercedes, the 22-year-old added: "That's what we are going for.

"You never know, so it's 50-50. It's yes or no.

"Already throughout the last few races we were really improving, so of course very pleased.

"Now one more race to go so we'll try to have a good weekend and try to finish it off with good feelings going into the winter break."

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  • F1 2020: Hamilton has penalty points rescinded by race stewards F1 2020: Hamilton has penalty points rescinded by race stewards

    Lewis Hamilton has received some good news after a deflating Russian Grand Prix, as the penalty points he received for an infringement have been rescinded by race stewards.

    Championship leader Hamilton was punished after carrying out practice starts outside the designated area prior to Sunday's race in Sochi.

    The Mercedes driver was handed two five-second time penalties, which he served in the pits after coming in when leading on lap 17, meaning he had to settle for a third-place finish.

    The Briton was also hit with two penalty points on his Formula One super licence, taking his tally to 10 across the previous 12 months. If he received two more, Hamilton would have served a one-race ban.

    However, after listening to audio, stewards accepted that it was the team at fault, as Hamilton was acting under instructions.

    "The stewards received information from the team that the driver of car 44 had received a team instruction to perform the practice start in the incorrect place," a statement from the stewards read. 

    "This was confirmed by the stewards having listened to the audio between the team and the driver.

    "Based on this information, the stewards replace document 47 with this decision and therefore remove the penalty points imposed."

    Hamilton had hit out at officials in a post-race interview with Sky Sports F1, the six-time world champion claiming: "They're trying to stop me".

    "I need to go back and see what the rules are, what exactly I did wrong, but I'm pretty sure no one has received two five-second penalties for something so ridiculous," he said.

    "I didn't put anyone in danger, I've done this at a million tracks over the years and never been questioned on it. But it is what it is."

    Asked if the punishment was excessive, Hamilton replied: "Of course it is, but it's to be expected.

    "They're trying to stop me, aren't they? But it's okay, I just need to keep my head down and stay focused, see what happens."

    Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas clinched victory, reducing the former's lead in the title race down to 44 points with seven rounds remaining.

  • F1 2020: Wolff on Hamilton penalties - Things go against him harshly sometimes F1 2020: Wolff on Hamilton penalties - Things go against him harshly sometimes

    Toto Wolff was sympathetic to Lewis Hamilton's frustrations after the Mercedes driver questioned the penalties handed to him during the Russian Grand Prix.

    Hamilton was leading in Sochi before race officials announced a pair of five-second penalties for carrying out practice starts outside of the designated area before the race had begun.

    The reigning world champion ended up finishing third but questioned the ruling made by stewards, stating: "They're trying to stop me, aren't they".

    Mercedes did still secure victory in the race through Valtteri Bottas - meaning it's seven from seven for the team in Russia - but Wolff acknowledged it had been a difficult day for Hamilton, with the ruling effectively costing him a shot at glory.

    It was a second setback in three races for the Briton, who appeared on course to win the Italian Grand Prix in Monza before being penalised for entering the pits when they were closed.

    "I think Lewis has faced a lot of adversity in his life, and to all of us the penalty seems a little harsh," Mercedes boss Wolff said in an interview with Sky Sports F1.

    "I think things go against him harshly sometimes. I guess if you're the most successful driver, you have to take that sometimes. 

    "First of all, like we've always done in the past, we win and lose together. We've never pointed the finger on a person or group, we've tried to analyse what we can do better, how we can improve. 

    "Clearly, we've had two incidents now – Monza and here – where we could have probably have had a better judgement, all of us together, and this is something that is going to make us better in the long term. 

    "Every driver that hasn't extracted the maximum points in a race is going to be unhappy. You have to respect the DNA of racing drivers, but as a team we need to be happy with the result.

    "We've increased our advantage in the constructors' championship and I'm very happy for Valtteri, but I can understand Lewis' feelings too."

    Hamilton's lead in the title race is now 44 points, while the penalties prevented him from equalling Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 91 race wins.

    On the subject of the illegal practice starts, Wolff explained how there is "room for interpretation" within the rules.

    "The stewards said it's not the place where you would do a race start and I agree with that," Wolff said. "But in the director's notes, you can make practice starts after the lights on the right-hand side. And that's what he did.

    "So there is room for interpretation and we clearly have to analyse why we made the mistake altogether and just take this one on the chin even though with the stewards, we agree to disagree."

  • F1 2020: Bottas buzzing with Sochi win after 'massive bee' distraction F1 2020: Bottas buzzing with Sochi win after 'massive bee' distraction

    Valtteri Bottas was buzzing with his victory at the Russian Grand Prix after revealing he was prevented from passing Lewis Hamilton at the start because of a "massive bee" on his visor. 

    Bottas triumphed in Sochi to claim his second success of the 2020 season, in the process closing the gap on Mercedes team-mate Hamilton to 44 points in the standings. 

    World champion Hamilton was handed two five-second penalties from the stewards for an illegal practice start and Bottas took full advantage, finishing comfortably clear of runner-up Max Verstappen. 

    However, the Finn initially got off to a shaky start as he failed to overtake his colleague on the opening lap. He missed his braking point, which he later revealed was down to an unlikely distraction. 

    "I tried [to overtake]," he said in his post-race interview. "I knew the start was going to be the first opportunity.  

    "Actually, it was a bit compromised because there was like a massive bee or something that hit my visor as I was braking. 

    "I couldn't really see when I should brake. So that's why I went too deep. But I knew it was going be a long race after that and, with the medium tyre, I had opportunities.  

    "But obviously Lewis had penalties, so once I was in clean air I felt the pace was pretty awesome and I could really control everything." 

    Verstappen also profited from Hamilton's penalties and was left feeling satisfied with his second-place finish having rarely threatened at any stage to mount a serious challenge to Bottas. 

    "I was just trying do my own race. I think we did everything well, and I'm very happy with second," he said. 

    "After the restart I think we were a little bit slow on the medium, but once we went onto the hard tyre, I think we were a little bit more competitive, so I'm happy about that. 

    "To be able to split the Mercedes' cars again, I think we can be pleased with that." 

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