Max Verstappen (Drivers’ championship – 11/10) is confident he is still the quickest man on the F1 grid despite losing his championship lead to Lewis Hamilton (4/6) Hungary on Sunday.
Heading into the traditional three-week summer break, Hamilton now leads the title by eight points ahead of the Dutchman, which seemed an unlikely prospect a month ago, but a thrilling title race has taken another twist.
After the Austrian Grand Prix, which was dominated by Verstappen, the Red Bull man was 32 points clear of Hamilton’s struggling Mercedes and in prime position to lift his first-ever F1 title.
However, his high-speed crash involving Hamilton at Silverstone could prove to be the season’s defining moment, and the pendulum swung further towards the Englishman in Hungary.
Luck wasn’t on Verstappen’s side as he was caught up in a first-lap melee on a damp Hungaroring circuit and dropped well down the order.
A damaged car meant he couldn’t fight his way back to the top and had to settle for two points.
Red Bull (Constructors’ championship – Red Bull 11/10, Mercedes 4/6) have three weeks to mull things over before the season restarts in Spa for the Belgian Grand Prix.
Despite recent misfortunes, the Dutchman is remaining defiant and thinks he is the fastest man on the grid still.
“I see it like this: I can still go faster than anyone in a car. There’s still something in there too. I’m absolutely sure I’m faster than Lewis,” Verstappen said.
“For myself, it works very well to think like that. If I don’t think that way, I’m indeed better off staying home.”
Sunday’s race in Hungary was one of the most remarkable in recent times as Apline’s Esteban Ocon took full advantage of opening lap carnage to secure a maiden win.
He was followed closely all race by four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, but the Aston Martin driver was disqualified post-race for being unable to supply a mandatory one-litre fuel sample.
That promoted Hamilton to second, as the Briton gained more crucial points.