Verstappen looking to 'reset' championship fight at Spa, as he prepares for 50th Honda-backed outing
The first half of the season has seen Max Verstappen gain and lose the championship lead in spectacular fashion, with crashes in Azerbaijan, Great Britain and Hungary hurting his chances. And the Red Bull driver says he’s going to treat the second half as a fresh start, beginning with the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend.
Verstappen gained the advantage with four wins from Monaco to Austria, interrupted only by a tyre issue that cost him victory at the Azerbaijan GP. A high-speed retirement at Silverstone followed by Turn 1 misery in Hungary set the Dutchman back, and what was a 32-point lead over Lewis Hamilton in the championship is now an eight-point deficit heading to Belgium.
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Despite the gap to Hamilton, Verstappen said: “I am of course excited to go back to Spa. It’s my favourite track and it’s really cool to drive with so many high speed corners and elevation changes
“I’m also looking forward to seeing all the fans who will be coming to support us, and it will be cool to see so much orange in the grandstands again as they couldn’t be there last year. I also think it is a good place to reset our championship fight and I’m well prepared and feeling good ahead of the weekend.”
Verstappen has mixed history at Spa-Francorchamps, having never led a lap in a Grand Prix at the sprawling forest circuit, nor has he finished better than third here in F1. But this year, he'll be driving the formidable Red Bull RB16B, with Honda providing their power to the team for the 50th time as they prepare to bow out of F1 at the end of the season.
"These 50 races with Honda will always be special and well remembered when we look back. I think of course the first win with Honda will always be the most emotional memory during our time together and hopefully we can end this season on a high with them before they leave the sport," said Verstappen.
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"I have enjoyed working with Honda from the start. They have always been straight talking and delivered what we have expected. They spend a lot of time discussing everything with the team and us as drivers, which has been very important."
Verstappen took the first of 11 wins for Red Bull-Honda in the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix, and aims to make it win #12 for the partnership this weekend in Belgium.