Max Verstappen’s Brazilian GP comments will be music to Lewis Hamilton’s ears

Max Verstappen was cautious when asked about his chances of winning the Brazilian Grand Prix this weekend, recalling the pace Mercedes showed at Interlagos last season when they ended Red Bull’s winning streak through George Russell’s first-ever race win.

The back-to-back constructor champions travel to Sao Paulo having won all but one Grand Prix in 2023 with that blip coming in Singapore, where Carlos Sainz managed to clinch an expertly-managed victory in spite of Mercedes’ superior pace.

This weekend, however, will offer the best chance for Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton to clinch their first victories of 2023. It was the seven-time world champion’s team-mate who took to the top step of the podium here last time around, but his pace remained competitive in that race despite taking significant damage from a clash with Max Verstappen.

Hamilton heads into this weekend with plenty to play for. The 38-year-old is still looking to end a win drought that spans back to the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, and now sits just 20 points behind Sergio Perez in second place as he looks to prevent Red Bull’s first-ever one-two finish in the Constructor Championship. 

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Asked ahead of the Brazilian GP whether or not he thought his rivals would be closer to Red Bull in terms of performance at Interlagos, he responded: “Well last year we didn’t have a great race weekend here.

“And now with also the sprint format, [it] makes it quite difficult to stay and be on top of things. We had a few ideas [about] why last year wasn’t that great but one practice session to make sure that it’s better this year.

“But I think there’s a lot of high deg (tyre degradation) here and the way you have to set up the car, a lot of low-speed corners. I don’t think our car is particularly… let’s say… amazing in the low-speed corners, so I guess we’ll find out.”

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When pressed further on his answers, Verstappen explained: “Yeah, well last year it was definitely not a great weekend you know, so we’ll definitely have to try and do better.”

With three races remaining of the 2023 campaign, Verstappen is essentially playing to break his own records. The Dutchman moved one clear of his 15-win tally from 2022 when he claimed victory in Mexico City last time out, and his 251-point lead at the top of the standings is nothing short of unprecedented. 

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