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With the championship perfectly poised on a knife-edge for the final seven races, Red Bull boss Christian Horner believes the championship battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton will go down to the wire this season.
The championship has been ebbing and flowing between the pair, who have been tussling for the lead of the driver standings as the pendulum continues to swing between the two.
Hamilton currently leads the way by just two points heading to the Turkish Grand Prix, with Verstappen pulling out an incredible performance in Russia to finish P2 from P20.
Horner, who has remained vocal all season regarding the championship battle, believes we will have to wait until the finale in the desert to have a champion crowned.
“We have seven races left, there will be more close races and drama,” Horner told Speedweek.com. “It will probably go to the final in Abu Dhabi.”
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Hamilton is vying for his eighth world title to overtake Michael Schumacher in the record books as the most successful Formula One driver in history.
At the age of 24 however, Verstappen is looking for his first title, and Red Bull’s first since 2013, with Horner admitting statistics show it’ll be a tight.
He continued: “If you look at the score and the races to go, I would say: 50:50.”
But the Briton was left elated with Verstappen’s performance in Russia, overcoming a grid penalty to keep the points gap between him and his main title rival at an all-time low.
“Absolutely,” he said. “We had to move three places back from Monza [penalty for crashing into Hamilton] and 20 more places by swapping to the fourth power unit.
“To advance from 20th to second on a track where Mercedes has always dominated, that’s really more than we could have hoped for.
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“But Max was able to catch up quickly. Given how difficult it is to overtake with these cars, Max’s performance was quite remarkable, really impressive.”
After the race, Verstappen paid credit to his race engineers for their perfect timing at the Russian Grand Prix. As rain came in during the closing stages of the race, Red Bull pitted for intermediate tyres in the latter stages, handing the Dutchman a huge opportunity to close the gap to Hamilton.
“It was pretty tricky on the in lap to make the call to go to inters,” Verstappen said.
“I think we decided at the right time to pit. To come from last to second is very very good.
“The race itself was not very easy as it was very difficult to pass and once you got stuck it was very easy to damage your tyres. The rain helped us to make that last jump.
“With the penalty we had, to only lose one spot basically is definitely not too bad. When I woke up this morning I definitely didn’t expect this result.
“From the back, a lot of things happened on the first lap and first stint. We managed all of that very good and the crucial call to go to the inters worked out.”
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