(CNN) – Red Bull’s Max Verstappen had a commanding performance at the Styrian Grand Prix to extend his lead at the helm of the Formula One (F1) drivers’ championship.
After starting on pole position, the 23-year-old Dutch driver finished this Sunday with more than 35 seconds of advantage over the current world champion, Lewis Hamilton.
It is Verstappen’s fourth win of the season, extending his lead 18 points ahead of Hamilton.
It is also the fourth race in a row without a win for the so far dominating Mercedes team and could mean a change of command with the Austrian Grand Prix next weekend.
“You never know how it’s going to end, but I immediately felt a good balance in the car,” Verstappen said after the race.
“The tire handling was good from the beginning. They pitted a lap before us, we reacted to that and kept going, trying to hit our lap times. That worked very well today, ”he added.
“That is very positive, but we have to show it again next week. Without a doubt, we will see what we can do better. I am looking forward to next week. It looks so good. We just have to keep trying hard and I am confident that we can do a good job again, “he said.
Easier for Verstappen this time
This F1 season has been packed with exciting races, made up of high-speed passing and dramatic finishes.
But coming off a thrilling victory last weekend at the French Grand Prix, it was much easier this time for Verstappen.
He qualified on pole position, setting the fastest lap in two of the three qualifying sessions.
And from the first lap, he seemed to be in control. He managed to maintain his lead in the first corner and, after two laps, he was already 1.4 seconds ahead of second-placed Hamilton.
Verstappen calmly and decisively extended his lead over 71 laps at the Red Bull Ring, displaying skill and mastery beyond his youth to claim his second win in seven days.
Hamilton, who could only settle for second place (finishing more than 11 seconds behind his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, third place), was at least able to claim a point by setting the fastest lap of the race.
But despite Mercedes claiming second and third place on the podium ahead of Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Pérez, the day was everything for the Dutchman.
Verstappen’s victory was the fourteenth of his burgeoning F1 career, putting him in first place to claim his first ever F1 world champion title.
“They are just faster”
Then seven-time F1 champion Hamilton, seeking his eighth title that would allow him to surpass the record set by Michael Schumacher’s great Ferrari, admitted that Mercedes is struggling to keep up with Red Bull’s.
“They are faster, they are just faster,” he told the media. There is not much I can do in that regard. I just have to keep trying to do my best every weekend.
“We have to find some performance, we need an improvement of some kind, we have to push. I don’t know if it’s just the rear wing or if it’s the engine upgrade, but we have to find some performance from somewhere.