F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar
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Toto Wolff admitted the home fans could turn on Mercedes if Lewis Hamilton crashes into Max Verstappen at the Dutch Grand Prix. Fans will be hoping there is no repeat of the incident at Silverstone, where the two title rivals aggressively fought for the lead.
The British Grand Prix was the last time Verstappen and Hamilton started on the front row alongside one another, where the seven-time world champion sent the Red Bull star flying at Copse corner into the wall and out of the race.
However, Mercedes’ team principal Wolff is hoping for a clean race at Zandvoort on Sunday.
“Well, I think if something were to happen tomorrow, even if we’re not at fault, they would be flaring those orange things at us!” the Austrian joked to Sky Sports.
“I hope we have a great race. They were super fair, the public also, there was no booing, and it’s just a great atmosphere here.
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“Let’s hope for a great race.”
Wolff also pointed out that Mercedes may have an advantage in the race as they possess the luxury of being able to use different strategies on their two cars near the front.
Sergio Perez had a qualifying nightmare and starts from 16th, while Valtteri Bottas secured third.
Red Bull’s Verstappen starts his home Grand Prix from pole position, while Hamilton is in second for Mercedes after a stunning last lap in qualifying placed the reigning champion on the front row – 0.038s off the Dutchman’s pace.
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With Hamilton taking P2 and Bottas in P3, Mercedes can use both cars to attack Verstappen, with Perez was knocked out in Q1.
“I think he outperformed the car, because that was a mega lap,” Wolff added regarding Hamilton’s sensational lap.
“We’re P2 and P3, that’s a good starting point.
“I think we need to be satisfied with where we ended up. Lewis missed out a lot yesterday on running and then, at the end, he put one lap together.
“I think if we’re able to have the same pace in the race, it’s gonna be about survival on a one-stop.”
Mercedes’ F1 boss suggested Verstappen must decide between a one or two-stop strategy while the Silver Arrows can ‘go totally different’.
While Wolff hopes the 23-year-old would be isolated and pressured by his team, he did point out the presence of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly on the second row could help Red Bull.
After a trip to Spa-Francorchamps last weekend, the Dutch Grand Prix is the second week in an F1 triple-header ahead of next week’s Italian Grand Prix.
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