Max Verstappen says he's aiming for third in the F1 championship standings after closing in on his own points target inside the opening half of the campaign.
The Red Bull driver currently sits sixth in the F1 drivers' championship but at the bottom of the tight Ferrari-Red Bull tussle behind the dominant Mercedes duo. Heading into the Hungarian Grand Prix, the gap between Verstappen and third place in the drivers' standings, Kimi Raikkonen, by just 16 points – despite competing in the Toro Rosso squad for the first four races of the year.
Having reassessed his personal points target for the year since being promoted to Red Bull the 18-year-old feels third in the championship is a realistic goal but says there is still a long way to go with 11 races remaining in 2016.
“We are pretty close [to third] but we will see where we end up at the end of the season,” Verstappen said. “We will be between third and sixth hopefully. You try to do the best possible job every race then we will see after Abu Dhabi where we are.”
Needing just 10 more points to achieve his original target for 2016 of a century of points – having taken 49 points in his rookie season – Verstappen is confident of matching his points tally in the second half of the campaign and has fond memories at the Hungaroring when on debut he took a stunning fourth place in 2015.
“Last year was very good even though we had some luck to finish fourth even with a drive-through,” he said. “It was a great weekend and one I enjoyed a lot. Hopefully this year we are aiming for more than fourth so we can be on the podium.”
Verstappen takes strong momentum into the Hungarian Grand Prix with back-to-back second places in Austria and Britain and remarkably stands just eight points off four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel despite standing on the podium on two fewer occasions.