World Championship leader Max Verstappen arrives at Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix with the aim of putting the Singapore weekend behind him, where he finished fifth last Sunday, with the Dutchman believing that Red Bull’s under-performance at the street circuit should remain an exception this year.
“Singapore was so different from what we’ll have here [in Suzuka] in terms of set-up, the way we’re going to set up the car, that I’m not worried that a weekend like this [Singapore] will disrupt our weekend here,” said Verstappen on Thursday in Japan.
“Of course, it wasn’t our strongest weekend, but it’s important that now we analyse everything step by step and we’ll get there. But there’s no real rush either.”
“Suzuka was pretty good in the simulator, and normally that’s a good indication when everything is easy [in the simulator], so hopefully it will be exactly the same in real life.”
Hamilton thinks Verstappen back at the front
“I would think that if they’re [Red Bull] not 30 seconds ahead like they have done in the past then something’s up!” Hamilton said in Thursday’s presser.
“But, no, it was obviously a difficult weekend the last one but their car should be phenomenal here.
“They have been phenomenal all year long, they have aced pretty much every circuit. I mean it’s going to be great to watch that car in general.
“Normally you would come here and it’s beautiful to watch the laps that they do because the whole team and the drivers are doing an amazing job with the package they have.”
“So it will be interesting to see how the weekend goes. I hope it will be closer and I hope they are not as fast as that 30-second gap they have had in the past.”
Mercedes see McLaren going well
Hamilton continued on by saying that “…when you look around, McLaren have been making great gains and they are usually quite good in the high-speed as well so they can be quite strong here I think,”
“It’s quite impressive to see where they started and where they are now…
“Over one lap especially they can be very strong. The race pace you never know, but over one lap I definitely see them very competitive.”
Max Verstappen wary of McLaren at Suzuka
At the last race in Singapore, McLaren driver Lando Norris finished second behind Carlos Sainz, as the Woking-based team once again sprang a surprise on a track that may not have suited the MCL60.
On more conventional tracks such as Silverstone and Spa, the McLaren has been very competitive this year, so it’s only logical that Max Verstappen (and other drivers) feel that the McLaren drivers will once again be a force to be reckoned with this weekend in Suzuka.
“Honestly, what they’ve done this year has been pretty impressive. So I’m definitely expecting them to be strong. But of course, I hope to be ahead of them,” added Max Verstappen about McLaren.
Ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, the Red Bull team leads the Constructors’ World Championship and could therefore clinch a sixth world title this weekend in Japan on two conditions (see here)
Bizarre Tsunoda rumours
The 2023 Formula One silly season has been nothing but a damp squib. The driver market has thus far been utterly predictable with Mercedes retaining both Hamilton and Russell, Haas indicating they will make no changes and Ferrari and Aston Martin have drivers with contracts through to 2025.
McLaren have Lando Norris locked in for two more seasons and new boy Oscar Piastri is expected to receive a contract extension with the papaya liveried team…. READ MORE ON THIS STORY