Verstappen ready 'to be counting some sheep' in 2nd Silverstone race
BERLIN - More late-race drama is not expected when Silverstone hosts its second Formula One race in eight days on Sunday, and given the current pecking order Red Bull's Max Verstappen knows what awaits him.
"I'll probably be counting some sheep next to the track," he said.
Verstappen finished second at the first race on the British track, spending most of it far behind the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, and far ahead of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.
"It was a pretty boring race for me. At one point I didn't see a car in front or behind, so I reminded my engineer to hydrate - to drink - I had nothing else to do," the Dutchman said.
The race was however thrown into complete disarray late on when Bottas and McLaren's Carlos Sainz suffered punctures and had to pit, while up front Hamilton encountered the same fate but won on three wheels - because Red Bull pitted Verstappen as well.
Verstappen said it would never be known whether he would have won or suffered a puncture without the stop.
Tyre-makers Pirelli said the extraordinary series of flats was the result of unusually long stints on a high-speed course which led to "the biggest forces ever seen on tyres generated by the fastest Formula 1 cars in history."
With softer tyres, albeit with more pressure as a result of Sunday's incidents, to be used Sunday all teams will almost certainly have to use a two-stop stategy, because the softer rubbers don't last as long as harder ones.
"One step softer is going to be a challenge for us all and no doubt will move us all to at least a two-stop," Hamilton said. "It's going to be a serious challenge. But everyone's in the same boat."
Hamilton leads the championship by 30 points from his third win of the season from four grands prix, and on Sunday can notch up an eighth home race win and 88th overall to move within just three of record holder Michael Schumacher.
The punctures reminded Mercedes that things can quickly change, with motor sport chief Toto Wolff saying: "We will continue to be sceptical, we know we have a fast car and a powerful engine, but we will not take anything for granted until we've crossed the finish line at each race weekend."
But without any mishaps the world champions remain streaks ahead of anyone else.
Verstappen had no illusions when asked whether he could get closer to Mercedes at Sunday's 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, in reference to the first-ever F1 race having been held at Silverstone in 1950.
"Normally not. It's so big, c'mon!" he said. "Maybe you find a tenth, or one-and-a-half, OK and we we are a bit closer - but it's not close enough. I'm trying but it's not possible at the moment.
"You have to be realistic. I mean you can dream, and you can hope but I think it's way more important to be realistic because that's how you move forward. If you keep dreaming about those chances, it's not going to happen. We just have to keep working."
That also applies to troubled Ferrari who got a second lucky podium from Leclerc while Sebastian Vettel only got into the points in 10th because of Bottas' and Sainz' punctures and is at odds with his car, soemthing that is not likely to change in a week.
"Something is very wrong, with me or with the car. I don't get a feeling for the car. Every time I try something and want to attack I lose the car. I have tried everything," the frustrated ex-champion said.