Mercedes boss Toto Wolff full of praise for Verstappen and Red Bull

Lewis Hamilton finished fourth at Spa and snatched the extra point for fastest lap from Verstappen on the final lap of the race

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has said that Max Verstappen is driving on a level above the rest of the field after the Dutchman secured his eighth consecutive victory at the Belgian GP.

Verstappen crossed the line 22 seconds ahead of teammate Sergio Perez despite starting from sixth on the grid after a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, and was only denied fastest lap by Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the race.

While Hamilton’s late pit stop secured an extra point for Mercedes as he finished fourth, with George Russell back in eighth, the team were unable to challenge Charles Leclerc and Ferrari for third and were well of the pace of the Red Bulls.

That’s despite a heavily upgraded car which has closed the gap to the other frontrunners, and Wolff told media after the race that the team had to discount Verstappen when assessing their progress so far this season.

“I think you just need to take Max out of the equation. The second row is where we are,” Wolff said.

“It would be a fantastic season and close racing. But you know, in this sport the stopwatch never lies, there’s just one guy in one car that is above everything else.”

Bouncing is back

Hamilton mentioned after the race that despite Mercedes’ pace, the bouncing on the straights known as porpoising which plagued their car in 2022 had returned, giving pause for thought as they head into the summer break ahead of the Dutch GP.

“I think you can even take Perez into the equation, we were racing each other. We seem to be following similar development routes. But there’s just one car that there is that is faster today,” Wolff said.

“That was one and a half seconds a lap but he was pushing at the beginning of this day. So we got to get on top of it that I’ve just seen the data and spoken to the drivers.

“The main limiting factor today and yesterday was the bouncing the cars policy literally on every straight. Even Raidillon was a corner that guys had to lift, which is an easy flat normally.”

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