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Max Verstappen

Why Verstappen is 'very happy' about Mercedes upping their game

Red Bull and Ferrari have dominated the first half of the 2022 Formula 1 season, but Max Verstappen would welcome Mercedes making it a three-way fight when the campaign resumes.

Hamilton Verstappen Hungary 2022
To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

World Champion Max Verstappen says he will be "very happy" if Mercedes continue their improved run of form after the Formula 1 summer break.

Verstappen heads into the break 80 points clear of Charles Leclerc in the Drivers' championship after claiming his eighth win of 2022 in the Hungarian Grand Prix, as Leclerc laboured to sixth following a strategy blunder from Ferrari.

The Italian squad have been Red Bull's closest rivals as Mercedes struggled to tame their W13 design amid porpoising issues which severely affected it in the opening rounds of the season.

However, Silver Arrows pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have led a fightback in recent races, the duo scooping second and third respectively in both France and Hungary.

Mercedes are now only 30 points behind Ferrari's 334 in the Constructors' Championship, with Red Bull 93 clear of the Maranello-based squad on 431 points.

And Verstappen believes that an uptick in performance from Mercedes will only help Red Bull as they seek to secure a championship double for the first time since 2013.

Verstappen welcomes Mercedes back to running at front

"It's good that they [Mercedes] are competitive because then they can steal more points off Ferrari, so I am very happy that they are doing well," Verstappen told media, including RacingNews365.com, after claiming victory from 10th on the grid in Budapest.

Although they have suffered with their car in 2022, Mercedes are still the only team to score points in every race, and have hauled at least one podium in nine different Grands Prix, compared to 12 for Red Bull and eight for Ferrari.

The W13 still lacks the outright pace of the RB18 driven by Verstappen and Sergio Perez and the F1-75s of Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, but Mercedes have been slicker operationally and have also enjoyed bulletproof reliability – something Ferrari have not.

Red Bull's Verstappen keen not to criticise Ferrari

Verstappen also leapt to Ferrari's defence after the Hungarian GP, keen not to criticise his closest rivals after another bad afternoon for the outfit.

Ferrari opted to pit Leclerc for the Hard Pirelli tyres, despite them not being a preferred race tyre. It led to the Monegasque being overtaken twice by Verstappen and eventually finishing a lonely sixth – losing a further 17 points to the Dutch driver.

"I find that difficult to comment [on], because nobody does things on purpose," observed Verstappen when asked if Ferrari were handing him his second world title.

"I think everyone always tries to do their best, and sometimes that's a bit harder to achieve. Everyone always wants to try and get the best result out of it.

"From my side, I always strive to get the best result out of it and the team [does] as well, sometimes you do that better than other weekends."

Verstappen also raised the point of Red Bull's reliability concerns and lost points, including in Bahrain and Australia when he retired from both races with mechanical issues when set for podium finishes.

"We also dropped quite a few points as well from our side by having issues," he said.

"But I find that difficult to say that they [Ferrari] helped me because, at the end of the day, you always have to perform yourself and as a team."

Also interesting:

F1 Podcast: Did Ferrari snatch defeat from the jaws of victory once again?

RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken and Michael Butterworth discuss the key topics from the Hungarian Grand Prix, including Ferrari's botched tyre strategy for Charles Leclerc.

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