Verstappen’s victory in the Monaco Grand Prix has left him heading F1’s drivers’ championship rankings for the first time in his career. His Red Bull team is also on top of the constructors’ table for the first time since 2013.
But despite the significance of the moment that highlights the fight Mercedes has right now, Vettel does not think that Verstappen will actually take any benefit from being on top of the points.
Instead, Vettel says that the best thing for the Dutchman is actually that he knows he has a car that is capable of fighting for victory at every race.
“I don’t think it [leading the championship] makes a big difference at this stage,” said four-time champion Vettel.
“I think if you are in contention, that’s the main thing that gives you peace of mind. You know that you’ve got a good car, you’ve got a good team around you and you can get the job done.
Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR21
Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images
“I think obviously, if you’re ahead, you want to make sure you finish in front of whoever’s behind you and increase the gap. But, like I said, it’s still very early, it’s only like five races. So we still have a lot of races to come, and the main thing is that you’re there or thereabouts.”
Verstappen’s main title rival Lewis Hamilton also says that the points situation now ultimately means nothing – as the approach to each race does not change.
“I am still hunting, you are hunting the whole year whether you are ahead, or if you are behind, so it doesn’t really feel any different for me,” he said ahead of the Baku GP.
“We are all hunting that same goal, right? Winning races and winning championships. So, I think we are all hunters.”
Verstappen said that from Red Bull’s perspective, the only thing it was thinking about was doing an even better job than it had done in the first five races.
“Of course everyone is focused that it needs to continue to go well for a long time, so not just up until this moment,” he said.
“It’s more important that we are on top at the end of the season. But the atmosphere is very positive, everybody was very happy after Monaco, of course.
“But they also know we have to continue like this and that we have to do better than in the first five races.”