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Verstappen assesses 'aggressive' Mercedes battle: They knew they were slower

Max Verstappen gave his verdict on the opening lap battle with the Mercedes drivers, who managed to muscle their way past the Red Bull driver on the opening lap of the Australian GP.

Max Verstappen suspects that he might have been "too cautious" in his opening lap battles with the Mercedes drivers at the Australian Formula 1 race. The reigning World Champion started the Melbourne race on Pole Position, but lost two positions in three corners to Mercedes' George Russell and Lewis Hamilton. Profiting from a better start, Russell took P1 in the opening corner of the race, whilst Hamilton made the most of an opportunity at Turn 3 by giving as little room as possible on the outside of the corner, forcing Verstappen to back off and concede the position. Ultimately, Mercedes were unable to deny the Dutchman a first Australian GP win, with the Red Bull driver powering past Hamilton and surviving a late race restart to secure the win.

Speaking immediately after the race, Verstappen had suggested that Hamilton hadn't driven fairly in their Lap 1 battle but, commenting later after the race, backed his decision to avoid excessive battling, but believed he had also been "too cautious" in the duels. "I was careful, but on the other hand I obviously have a lot to lose on that first lap and they obviously try to race very aggressively because they know they are slower," Verstappen commented to ViaPlay . "If I have damage, then of course my whole race is over. Of course you don't want to lose any spots, but in the end you see that it doesn't matter much for me. "I was very careful, maybe a little too careful. On the other hand, you could see that they were going full out and even if I had driven along on the outside, they would have tried to make it very difficult for me."

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