Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton weigh up US GP prospects ahead of tense battle

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Max Verstappen has admitted Red Bull need “more pace” this weekend if they’re to beat Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton to the title this season. With just six races remaining, the championship looks set to go down to the wire in Abu Dhabi, with the Dutchman currently holding a six-point lead over Hamilton.

And now Formula One heads to what has been hailed as “Hamilton territory” by Red Bull boss Christian Horner, and Verstappen agrees it won’t be an easy weekend.

“We know we still have a bit of work to do.,” said Verstappen, speaking in Thursday’s press conference ahead of the United States Grand Prix. “I’m not concerned because there is nothing we can do about it. But we have to find a bit more performance.

“We learned a lot in Turkey and we try to do better with our package. We have to focus on ourselves.”

Verstappen reclaimed the lead of the standings from Hamilton after a second-place finish at the Turkish Grand Prix, with his team-mate Sergio Perez finishing third.

Despite Mercedes winning, Hamilton had to settle for fifth place.

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It meant he surrendered the lead of the standings, resulting in a stark warning from his boss Toto Wolff that a non-finish could decide the championship either way.

Speaking after the Turkish Grand Prix Wolff said: “In the end, we lost eight points today [Sunday] to Red Bull from a grid penalty and Red Bull last week were happy with a seven-point loss, It’s going to be very tight until the end [of the season].

“DNFs are going to make the big difference and that was also a consideration today, not three or four or five-point swings.

“The whole season swings back and forth, we make mistakes together, we win together. We decided for one thing and it went wrong [in Turkey, when talking about changing for fresh intermediate tyres}.

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“We have had much bigger swings in the past with lost opportunities and this one was a very close call.”

With just six points separating Verstappen from Hamilton at the top of the table, the championship is on a knife-edge, with the seven-time world champion keen to reclaim the lead in America, a circuit he has won at six times throughout his career.

Echoing his boss’s words, Hamilton said: “It is important to win every race somehow or maximise our points. That is our goal over the next six races.

“It is going to be incredibly difficult. There will be moments when we can edge them out. I don’t like to assume Mexico is not going to be strong, but they are usually very strong in Mexico.

“A lot can happen in six races. We just take one race at a time and give it everything we’ve got.”

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