Formula 1

Verstappen Looking to Push Mercedes Hard Across Final Four Races of 2020

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Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Max Verstappen is looking to put the disappointment of his retirement from the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix behind him as he attacks the Intercity Istanbul Park for the first time this weekend for the Turkish Grand Prix.

The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver was on course for a second-place finish at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari when a tyre exploded on the run down to the Villeneuve chicane, with his afternoon coming to an end in the gravel trap.

Verstappen says it was pleasing to be able to take the fight to the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team at Imola, and he remains eager to put as much pressure on Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas across the final four races of the season.

“It is what it is and there was nothing we could have done to change the outcome of the race from our side,” said Verstappen. “I’m just trying to stay as close to Mercedes as possible and push them to the last race.

“The pit crew have been amazing all year and the stops have been so good that it can help us gain an advantage in the race. I think we have had the fastest pit stop at every race so far which is pretty impressive.”

Verstappen has never competed at the Intercity Istanbul Park before, although he does not think even those with experience will find it that useful with the race having been on the Formula 1 schedule back in 2011.

“I’m looking forward to visiting another new track and they are definitely making the season even more exciting,” said the Dutchman.  “It’s a place I’ve never been to before and I’m not sure how many of the other drivers have raced there either, I think that even if they have been there before, it won’t give them a massive advantage as it was a long time ago.

“It’s definitely a fast track. I’ve driven it on the simulator and the whole track is very enjoyable. I think it will be a good track to overtake on, there are so many straights and the corners are quite wide, so you can take quite a few different lines through them which is always interesting. Hopefully I won’t need to overtake too much though!”

The Turkish Grand Prix will be Red Bull’s three-hundredth Grand Prix, and Verstappen says it is an amazing statistic, particularly when the likes of Christian Horner has never missed a race in that time.

“It’s a great achievement for the Team and pretty cool to know that Ole my front end mechanic and also one of our strategists Will have been at the Team from the start,” said Verstappen.  “Also I can’t believe Ole and Christian have never missed a race weekend, that’s pretty impressive over 16 seasons!”

“I think the track should hopefully suit our car” – Alexander Albon

Team-mate Alexander Albon is another driver to have never raced at the circuit, and he is looking forward to getting the weekend underway at a circuit he feels looks ‘really impressive’.

Albon, who remains under pressure to perform across the remaining races of 2020 if he wants to remain with Red Bull next season, says Red Bull’s impressive form at Istanbul Park in the past gives him hope that they can find the right formula this weekend.

“I haven’t [been there before] so it will be a new experience for me which I’m looking forward to,” said Albon.  “I’ve driven the track online and of course I’ve watched previous F1 races there on TV as I was growing up.

“It looks really impressive and it offers some good overtaking spots by the looks of it. I think the track should hopefully suit our car, but it also looks quite power hungry too. But I’m looking forward to hitting the track, trying out some new test items, fine tuning the car and seeing what it’s like.

“We spend our time looking at previous data to understand how the car will perform so the fact we’ve had the right formula at Istanbul in previous years should hopefully put us on the right path.

“Of course this year will be different as the cars have changed a lot and the track has also been resurfaced, but even for us drivers, looking back at Sebastian [Vettel] and Mark [Webber]’s comments about the circuit and what helped them improve will help us.”

Albon said he enjoyed the two-day weekend format last time out at Imola, and with more Grand Prix on the schedule than ever before in 2021, he would not mind seeing some of the events switching to just the two days next year.

“I enjoyed the two-day weekend,” he said.  “I think that if we plan to do lots of races next year, then we should definitely consider doing more two-day race formats.

“Of course, free practice was busy, but I enjoyed it and I think we should do this format more. We covered a lot of stuff on Saturday, it all went well, and we did everything we needed to do in the short time frame, so it was all positive.

“One of the other benefits of a two-day race weekend is that it would allow the mechanics to have an extra day at home! In general, the weekend was a bit tough on my side. Qualifying wasn’t too bad, but I struggled a bit with the balance and getting comfortable with the car which meant we couldn’t extract the full potential.”

Alexander Albon has failed to score points in the past three Grand Prix – Credit: Peter Fox/Getty Images
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