German GP: Max Verstappen on Red Bull's Mercedes target
"We want to be in front of Ferrari but we want to be even more in front of Mercedes," says Verstappen, who also chooses not to criticise Vettel after Silverstone
By James Galloway at Hockenheim
Last Updated: 25/07/19 4:20pm
Max Verstappen says Red Bull have their sights trained on closing down Mercedes, with the in-form Dutchman hopeful they can work towards challenging for wins regularly in 2020.
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto admitted after the last race at Silverstone, when Verstappen would have finished on the podium but for Sebastian Vettel crashing into his Red Bull, that the two teams are "very close" in the duel behind F1's runaway championship leaders.
Asked ahead of the German GP what Red Bull's biggest challenge was in the final fortnight before F1's summer break, Verstappen replied: "Closing the gap to Mercedes.
"We want to win so that's our biggest challenge ahead to try and close that gap.
"Further than I would like [away]. We are getting closer, it's not good enough but we know that so we're working hard to try and close that."
Verstappen is ahead of both Ferrari drivers in the championship after 10 races, but both the Scuderia's drivers have more than double the points of Pierre Gasly, Red Bull's other driver. That means Ferrari hold a large, albeit not insurmountable, buffer of 52 points over their rivals for second in the Constructors' Championship, with 11 rounds to go and 484 points to play for.
"At the end of the day second is always better than third, but we're here to win," stressed Verstappen.
"Of course we want to be in front of Ferrari but we want to be even more in front of Mercedes. This year at the moment we are trying to get the most out of the engine as well and learn from what we did wrong in the beginning of the season, or not as good compared to Mercedes and Ferrari.
"Hopefully next year we can fight for the wins all the time."
Verstappen reflects on Vettel crash
With an unblemished sequence of top-five finishes so far this year, Verstappen is third in the standings ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc heading into Hockenheim this weekend.
The Dutchman's advantage over Vettel grew to 13 points at Silverstone, when the four-time champion failed to score after rear-ending Verstappen's car - an incident the 21-year-old remains philosophical about.
"He said that he made a mistake to me after the race. Of course, I'm disappointed not to have been on the podium, but what can I say? It happens," said Verstappen.
"I made a mistake in China against him [in 2018] and he was quite calm about it at the time. It happens, unfortunately. It's racing as well - you prefer it not to happen, but it happens."
Sky Sports F1's German GP schedule
Friday, July 26
9.45am: German GP Practice One build-up
10am: German GP Practice One (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event until 11am)
1.45pm: German GP Practice Two build-up
2pm: German GP Practice Two
4pm: German GP: The Story So Far
Saturday, July 27
10.45am,: German GP Practice Three build-up
11am: German GP Practice Three
1pm: German GP Qualifying build-up
2pm: GERMAN GP QUALIFYING (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
4.30pm: The F1 Show (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
7.30pm: IndyCar Mid-Ohio Qualifying
Sunday, July 28
11.20am: Porsche Supercup
12.30pm: German GP: Pit Lane Live (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
1.30pm: German GP: On The Grid (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
2.10pm: THE GERMAN GRAND PRIX LIVE! (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
4pm: German GP Paddock Live (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
5pm: German GP: The Notebook (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
5.30pm: German GP Highlights (Simulcast on Sky One)
6.30pm: German GP Race Replay
8.30pm: IndyCar Mid-Ohio Race
Watch the German GP live only on Sky Sports this weekend. Find out more here to watch the 2019 season live