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Max Verstappen has been told he has “got to worry” about Red Bull’s tyre degradation after Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc blitzed the Dutchman at the Austrian Grand Prix. To the disappointment of the legion of Dutch fans at the Red Bull Ring, Leclerc passed Verstappen three times on his way to victory.
Ferrari looked set for a one-two finish before Carlos Sainz’s engine burst into flames with 14 laps left and only a sticking throttle allowed Verstappen to catch Leclerc back up at the end. The Monegasque’s victory is a huge shot in the arm for his title hopes, that had been fading pre-Austria.
The gap still stands at 38 points between Leclerc and Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship but the Ferraris showed blistering speed in Spielberg for the team’s second straight win after the British Grand Prix. And Verstappen has been warned the degradation of his tyres should worry him.
“I think you’ve got to worry about it because you never know if it’s going to hit you in the coming races,” Sky Sports F1’s Johnny Herbert said after the race. “France is probably not one of those that’s too bad but we know they’re normally very good in Hungary and Hungary can be quite hard on tyres.
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“They’ve got to get to the bottom of that’s for sure. Like Max said, it’s a bit of a surprise. There’ll be a lot of head-scratching going on I’m sure. Look a little bit next door at the other garage and Ferrari looked very, very good once again.
“This championship is far, far from over because certain tracks are going to suit one or the other. But you’ve got to have a tyre you know you can push as much as you can. What Charles was able to do was control the tyre, Max wasn’t able to at all, he just sort of just went out of the window.”
Asked if P2 was a good result, Verstappen admitted to Sky Sports F1: “Better than expected. If you look at the whole race we were lacking pace, just a lot of deg, I don’t really understand why it was that bad.
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“And it looked like Carlos was also going to overtake but unfortunately he encountered engine trouble. In the end we only lose five points over the weekend which is not too bad on a bad day. A bit more tricky than I expected it to be today but these things can happen.
“I just had no grip, I couldn’t manage my tyres like I want to because they were degrading a lot. It’s difficult to tell, it seemed we had a bit of an off-day and they had a strong day.
“I feel sorry for Carlos and for Checo that they don’t score points because it’s not nice to have these kind of issues. For myself I of course always try to maximise everything I can. If you look at today it looks not that great for us but things can turn really quickly so difficult to tell.”
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