Mercedes boss Toto Wolff responds after claims Max Verstappen ‘psyching everyone out’

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MAX VERSTAPPEN will start the Belgian Grand Prix from the back of the grid after picking up penalties for new parts.

F1 preview: A lap of the Belgian Grand Prix

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Toto Wolff has claimed Max Verstappen is “not that superior” despite the Dutchman trouncing Mercedes during Friday practice. Verstappen beat Charles Leclerc’s fastest time in FP2 by almost nine-tenths of a second to lay down a marker on Friday.

Leclerc appeared shocked at the reigning champions’ impressive time in a wet/dry practice session. The Ferrari star said “Wow, that’s quick” when told of Verstappen’s lap on team radio.

After the session, F1 pundit Peter Windsor said: “I guess starting P19 might be better than starting P20 though at the moment Max Verstappen’s pace has got everyone completely psyched out.” Responding to whether Mercedes were worried about the threat of Verstappen, Wolf claimed the Dutchman had simply timed his lap well.

He told Auto Motor Und Sport: “Max will be hard to beat, but the gap of eight-tenths is deceptive. He is not that superior. He clearly put his tyres in a perfect situation during the lap.” Mercedes have been tipped to do well at the Belgian Grand Prix after their closest rivals were hit with penalties.

READ MORE: Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc ‘joined by 7th driver penalised’

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff responds after claims Max Verstappen 'psyching everyone out'

Toto Wolff claims Max Verstappen is ‘not that superior’ (Image: Getty)

Verstappen and Leclerc will start at the back on Sunday after both taking a range of new engine components. It hands an advantage to the Silver Arrows with Hamilton and George Russell only losing out to Verstappen at the last two races.

Hamilton has now picked up five consecutive podium finishes since the Canadian Grand Prix as the team’s form improves. A new FIA technical directive regulating a minimum oscillation test to reduce porpoising also comes into effect this weekend which could have an impact on the pecking order.

When asked if Mercedes had a big opportunity to challenge for a win this weekend, Sky Sports host Naomi Schiff replied “certainly”.

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff responds after claims Max Verstappen 'psyching everyone out'

Max Verstappen was fastest in FP2 yesterday (Image: Getty)

She added: “That Mercedes has come a long way this season so far. This new technical directive, which doesn’t necessarily change much for Mercedes but it might change more for the other teams and bring Mercedes closer to them for that reason.

“From what I hear it won’t make the world of difference but Mercedes has got a load of other updates coming this weekend so it will be interesting. Especially given the fact they don’t have any penalties so far this weekend.”

But, Hamilton struggled in practice yesterday setting a time only sixth fastest in FP2 with Russell down in eighth.


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