F1: Can Lewis Hamilton do it again?
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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has vowed to fight fire with fire and continue to be “really aggressive” in their fierce battle with Red Bull, as Max Verstappen chases down Lewis Hamilton once again in a thrilling title fight.
The championship lead has ebbed and flowed throughout the whole season, with both drivers sharing the glory.
Yet, thanks to a win in a chaotic Russian Grand Prix, Hamilton currently holds the spot at the top by just two points over Verstappen heading to round 16 in Istanbul, the place the Briton won his seventh world title at in 2020.
But the story is completely different this season, with Red Bull and Verstappen adding extra pressure on the reigning world champion, ensuring the battle for the title goes down to the wire.
Speaking after the Russian Grand Prix, Wolff said: “In a way, we’re not maximising our points scoring, and [it was] the same today [in Sochi].
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“I think qualifying was all decisive. Valtteri going back [after an engine penalty] we knew was difficult, and we ended up with a first and fifth, and that is very good, no doubt about that, and it’s Lewis’ 100th victory.
“But Max recovered in a spectacular form, and that is not good for the championship.
“So in a nutshell, we just need to continue to be really aggressive in how we approach this season, not be defensive, but just move forward, in order to score these big points.
“Because neither us nor the others are really good in maximising the points at the moment.”
Mercedes did extend their lead in the Constructors’ Championship by 33-points thanks to Valtteri Bottas’ fifth-place finish, despite starting from the back of the grid.
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But as Hamilton looked to take the lead of the race, Verstappen had already carved his way through the pack from P20 and as the rain began to fall he dove into the pits early to change for intermediate tyres.
The gamble paid off with a deluge of rain following, with the Dutchman maximising his position and putting a stop to Hamilton extending his lead by anything more than two points.
But with Monza and Sochi historically strong tracks for Mercedes, Wolff also added that some tweaks to the regulations have left them unable to predict where they can capitalise over their rivals for the final seven races.
“I stopped trying to anticipate whether it’s historically a strong race for us, because everything with the new regulations, everything changes, so has changed so much,” Wolff said.
“Definitely, we knew that Monza and Sochi would be coming more towards us. And the reality is we are where we are, and this is the points gap and I doubt that any of the two teams will make massive swings up or down.
“It’s just about, really, to continue to do the best possible job.”
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