Verstappen leads the drivers’ standings after the Turkish Grand Prix, but Red Bull currently trail Mercedes in the constructors’ championship
A pit stop error meant Lewis Hamilton came home fifth at the Turkish Grand Prix, and Verstappen’s second-placed finish meant he leapfrogged his title rival at the top of the drivers’ standings.
The Dutchman boasts a six-point lead over the seven-time world champion with six races remaining, but the current state of the constructor’s championship make for less pleasant reading as far as Red Bull are concerned.
Valtteri Bottas‘ win in Istanbul combined with the points Hamilton won meant the Silver Arrows still extended their lead over their Red Bull rivals, despite Verstappen and Sergio Perez finishing second and third.
The gap is 36 points, a difficult mountain to climb for a team hoping to end Mercedes’ dominance of the sport – the Brackley-based team have won the championship every year since 2014.
Verstappen was eager to point out that the last few races have taken place at tracks which suit the Mercedes W12 more than Red Bull’s RB16B, but called on his team to give it everything during the run-in.
“Of course overall I think we have been at tracks that naturally were a bit better for Mercedes but then this track was a bit unknown and clearly they were ahead of us,” the 24-year-old told Sky Sports.
“I do think we need to step it up a bit to be in the fight until the end of the season.”
Red Bull were surprised to see Mercedes’ speed on the straights in Istanbul, with team principal Christian Horner hinting his suspicion over the reasons why.
“The straight-line speed of Lewis was 15 to 20kmh up after the kink on the straight, which is phenomenal,” he said.
“When you’ve got straight-line speed that’s greater than with a DRS open, that’s pretty impressive. It’s down to the FIA to continue to look at these things.”
Verstappen added he felt the Mercedes had been faster for “most of the season”, suggesting Red Bull have been up against it once again while competing against the Germans.
“Of course they’ve sorted their car out so it’s a bit more obvious that top speed they have,” the Dutchman said. “There’s not much we can do.
“It’s what we have to live with, it’s not going to magically disappear but of course we’ll try to minimise the damage on the straights.”