Max Verstappen has once again downplayed his chances of getting into contention for the Formula 1 championship in 2019, believing it will be hard to catch Mercedes at the front of the pack.

Verstappen claimed his second victory in three races in Germany last weekend, cutting the gap to Lewis Hamilton at the top of the drivers’ standings to 63 points and stoking hopes of a more open battle for the title this year.

Speaking on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, Verstappen echoed his immediate-post race comments in Germany by dismissing thoughts on a surge towards the title battle.

“I don’t think about that. I just try to do the best job every weekend,” Verstappen said.

“With Mercedes having such a dominant start to the season, I think it’s hard to catch them. We’re going to try, but I’m not thinking about the championship.”

Verstappen was able to make a big gain on Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas – 22 points clear of Verstappen in the championship – after a difficult weekend for Mercedes at Hockenheim that saw both its drivers have multiple off-track moments.

“As a team, we can handle the pressure well in those conditions, especially in the pit stops where we seem to be really strong this year again,” Verstappen said of Red Bull.

“Putting on pressure, they might make a mistake. You finish first, they finish second, you’re not gaining a lot of points.

“For them, being more than 60 points in the lead is massive. Yes, they had a bad weekend - there are unlucky moments.

“It’s still a big gap to close. I’ll try, but I’m not focused on the title fight, I just see every weekend as an opportunity to do well.”

Heading into the final race weekend before the summer at the Hungaroring, Verstappen named Mercedes as the pre-race favourite despite its Hockenheim struggles.

“I don’t think we are favourites, but we’ll try to do a good job,” Verstappen said.

“Mercedes have been the most dominant so far this season. After last weekend, I’m sure they will come here trying to bounce back from that.

“We know they have a good car. We need to make sure we have a good set up in the car, and then hopefully we can be close to them.”

 

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