(Spa-Francorchamps) SPA-Even the horde of orange-clad fans clad in a wall of sound could not convince Max Verstappen that he could join Lewis Hamilton in the Formula One drivers standings this season.
Admittedly, clearing a 69-point deficit against Hamilton is a big task, even for Verstappen.
Tens of thousands of Dutch fans are expected at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit for Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix. They have attended all the races in great numbers this season, but they should be even more numerous this weekend, given the proximity of Belgium and the Netherlands.
The color of the Prince of Orange and Nassau account
"It's unbelievable for all those fans. They are easy to find in orange. They are excited even before the race starts, Verstappen said. They sometimes light emergency lights: I remember being in the straight line while everything was orange. It's good to see them and I'm happy to have so many fans. I hope that over the years, this group will be more numerous. "
The orange color does not appear on the flag of the Netherlands, but it is the national color of this small neighboring country of Belgium.
At 16e century, William the Taciturn, prince of Orange and account of Nassau, was the leader of the revolt against the king of Spain Philip II, who led to the independence of the Netherlands. His followers were called "Orangemen" and it is therefore natural that they adopted this shade as a banner.
Verstappen's popularity has skyrocketed in recent weeks, mainly due to his flying that led to his victory at the Austrian GP and his calm in the rain en route to victory at the German GP. He also had a very long duel with Hamilton in Hungary, while he held the British, faster, until the very end, when Hamilton finally doubled for the win.
Nevertheless, a glance at the standings allows Verstappen to say that it will be difficult to join Hamilton, five-time world champion who drives a Mercedes faster and has almost no reliability problems. Especially since the slopes at Spa and Monza, site of the next Italian Grand Prix, are better for Mercedes than Red Bull.
"I think the circuits will have a big impact on our results. I expect Spa to be a bit more difficult, and even more so, Monza, admitted Verstappen. Then, with the modifications made to the car, there are some circuits where we can heat them. But from there to winning the championship, I do not think so. "
Future world champion?
Verstappen is seen as a future world champion and shares the unwavering confidence felt by Hamilton and other riders of that caliber before him, such as seven-time champion Michael Schumacher and the late Ayrton Senna. The imperturbable Verstappen, however, seems to live his climb with a grain of salt.
"It's natural: you're getting older and gain experience. So for me, it's not a big surprise what's happening to me right now, he said. I think it's a natural progression. I do not think it would be very good to be on your decline at age 21. "
Spa is the longest circuit of the season 7 km and the Red Bull should be the third fastest, behind Mercedes and Ferrari, which won last year thanks to the sublime driving of Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton leads the championship by 62 points over his team-mate Valtteri Bottas, but he still believes Bottas and Verstappen can heat him up.
"Max is catching up (Bottas) and getting closer," said Hamilton. Red Bull will have two circuits where their car is still doing very well. Look at the last campaign: they were very strong at the end of the calendar. So I see them as a threat by the end of the season. "
With The Press