Red Bull play down Max Verstappen hopes of beating Lewis Hamilton again at Austrian GP

Lewis Hamilton's 'natural ability is fantastic' says Button

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has suggested that Max Verstappen could lose out to Lewis Hamilton at this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix despite strolling to a comfortable victory at the same circuit on Sunday. The Dutchman pipped his Mercedes counterpart to the chequered flag by over 35 seconds to seal his fourth race win of the year and stretch his lead to 18 points at the top of the Drivers’ Championship.

Red Bull have taken victory at each of the last four Grands Prix to swing this year’s title fight in Verstappen’s favour as he eyes a maiden end-of-season triumph.

Meanwhile, Hamilton is gunning for a record-breaking eighth title but looks to be facing an uphill battle given the scintillating recent form of his 23-year-old rival.

He was unable to lay a glove on Verstappen at the Steiermark Grand Prix, with the Red Bull man coasting into a dominant early lead and retaining his advantage over the course of the 71-lap race to cross the line first.

Despite the latter’s impressive efforts, Horner is not entirely convinced that this weekend’s outing in Spielberg will produce the same result.

The 47-year-old has urged his team to operate with caution ahead of Verstappen’s next opportunity to down Hamilton at the Austrian Grand Prix, underlining Red Bull’s strategy to approach the season on a race-by-race basis and avoid getting carried away with the bigger picture.

JUST IN: Lewis Hamilton admits it was ‘impossible’ to keep up with Verstappen

“We’ve just got to take things one step at a time,” Horner told an official press event. “The team is performing incredibly well.

“Max is driving with great maturity and consistency. We’ve got to keep turning the screw. Keep our heads down and keep doing what we’re doing.

“Just keep doing the basics well, we’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing. To have won the last four races on the tyres of circuits that we have, it’s the best run we’ve had since 2013.

“We’re back here next weekend. We saw last year that even though you have two races at the same circuit, the second race can be quite different to the first. 

“Track conditions, weather etc. We’ve just got to take each race one-by-one and try to optimise our performance.”

Regardless of whether or not Verstappen manages to seal this year’s Drivers’ Championship crown, Red Bull will be hoping to carry their strong form into next season as they look to hit the ground running by adapting to the wholesale regulation changes.

Mercedes have already suggested that they will snub any further development on their current W12 challenger in order to focus on the new rules.

However, Horner has warned that his team will not back down from the fight, admitting that he is proud of their ability to maximise the car’s potential by working tirelessly behind closed doors.

“I think we’ve always believed as a race team that you have set developments,” he added.

“For example, Monza you know you have to make a set of wings for. As with Monaco. It’s a balancing act between 2022 and this year.

“It’s a matter of applying your resources carefully and efficiently.”

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