According Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, “sheer math” suggests that Max Verstappen is a genuine threat for the world title. The Dutch driver snatched his maiden pole position on Saturday in Hungary, flanked by the Mercedes duo.
This feat continues the Dutchman’s excellent form, which started off with two wins in Austria and Germany. Those wins catapulted him to lie 63 points behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ standings.
According to Wolff, Red Bull-Honda and Verstappen are on a roll, and the numbers are proof of his conviction that the 21-year-old must be considered a title contender.
“I think there are 10 more races to go, so 260 points to score. What’s our advantage? Sixty-odd,” said Wolff on Saturday.
“You can see from the sheer maths that Max is somebody we need to take seriously and consider as a title rival in the same way we need to consider the two Ferrari drivers as title rivals. We cannot afford to take the foot off the throttle.”
The Mercedes boss was glad to see someone step up to the plate, though he is wary of the Red-Honda package in the hands of Verstappen.
“First of all the Red Bull chassis was always among the best, and it still is. And then Honda has made a big step forward from last year to this year, and all credit to them,” he added.
“I’m happy to see that for F1, because a strong Honda is good for F1, good for the competition, and at the end if there’s a fourth power unit supplier that has a competitive package that is generally positive for all of us.”
“And it also shows us that we’ve got to reinvent ourselves in a way, and I see this as really positive journey.”